Recognizing a need for more staff and Big Sister volunteers who reflect the diversity of our Little Sisters (nearly 90% of whom identify as girls of color), Big Sister formalized our Diversity Council in 2007. In 2016, the Council elected a slate of officers, with
Big Sister Evelyn Reyes Beato
taking the helm as president. And, in 2018, the group became an official board under Evelyn's leadership, having steadily increased our staff and volunteers of color over the past several years. A Big Sister of seven years and a former Big Sister of the Year, Evelyn brings a unique perspective to the Diversity Board.
How does being a Big Sister impact your perspective as Diversity Board president (and vice versa)?
As a Big Sister I am witness to the positive effects I have had on my Little Sister Blasmiry. Being a Big Sister I look at the world with different eyes. I see the need for mentorship in our communities and it motivates me to inform people of what Big Sister does and how their daughters will benefit from having a Big Sister.
As President of the Diversity Board I feel that I am in a good position to bring awareness to my network about Big Sister, as well as to create programming that will inspire more women of color to become Big Sisters.
What is the Diversity Board's vision for 2018?
The Diversity Board shares the vision of Big Sister Boston: to create a mentor-rich community in which every girl has access to the individual
nurturing, guidance and support she needs to become a confident, competent and caring
What was your experience growing up as a girl of color in Boston?
Times were different when I grew up and it seems to me that the community of kids that I grew up with and went to school with were more involved with each other. We played outside: tag, jump rope, hopscotch; we went to the park and ran around! My childhood growing up in Jamaica Plain was simple and fun.
However, looking back on it I could have used a Big Sister. I was very restless, precocious and curious as a child. I bombarded my mother with so many questions that she started calling me "Lechusa" which means owl in Spanish. I was always approaching her with a who, what, when, where, and why conversation. I had natural interests and talents that were only fully explored and developed when I became an adult. If I had had a Big Sister I think she would have been a valuable resource for my insatiable curiosity and helping me to identify new opportunities to learn and explore.
How do you think that experience is similar or different for other girls in Boston today?
I think it is similar in the way that these girls have interests that their parents might not have the bandwidth to attend to or expose them to. A Big Sister can help in that regard. We can take our Little Sisters to places that the parents might not be able and offer a different perspective on the world.
What is something we might find surprising about you?
There are many things that might surprise folks about me. Here are two: I recently became a student. I am in my first year at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design enrolled in their Fashion Certificate Program. I have always had an interest in fashion. I used to make clothes for my dolls when I was a little girl. Growing up I didn't know there was a school for this and neither did my parents. I didn't focus on fashion as a career, I was busy doing other things, and honestly I just didn't think of pursuing that dream back then. But, if I had a Big Sister I might have. In 2017, when I was laid off from a job, I decided to go back to school and explore an education and maybe a career in fashion. I am also a writer. I maintain a personal blog and have written for a variety of online magazines in Boston.