Ashley Cunliffe, 21-year-old elementary education major, started a fund to help her Little Sister attend college by cutting and selling her hair.
Cunliffe began her involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters in November 2016. She was matched with her Little Sister, 8-year-old Jasmine Smith, a student at Northside School in January 2017. Smith had waited for over a year to receive a Big Sister.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America serves children by matching them with a compassionate adult mentor to guide them to be successful. BBBS believes that when children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and to focus on academics. Being matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister is intended to help them navigate challenges and reach their potential, Cunliffe said.
Cunliffe said she chose to volunteer with BBBS over other similar organizations because the program carefully screens and selects children who genuinely need mentoring. BBBS also has a meticulous matching process that results in successful pairs, she said.
“I wanted to make sure I was spending my time with a child who actually needed it," Cunliffe said. "They also make matches based on activities and interests and I think Jasmine and I are perfect for each other.”
BBBS was also appealing to Cunliffe’s demanding schedule, she said.
“BBBS only requires eight hours a month with your Little," Cunliffe said. "I work two jobs and am a full-time student, but I do something with my Little every week.”
Cunliffe said the biggest impact she hopes to have on Smith is motivation towards educational success. She said she hoped to mentor a child she could help academically, but her Little is in the top of her class. Smith’s academic success furthered Cunliffe’s want to inspire her to attend college.
Cunliffe decided to start the college fund for Smith after doing some research and discovering she could privately sell her hair online for a fairly substantial profit.
“I do not know how much I will be able to sell it for, but I am excited and hope I can get this college fund started for Jasmine,” Cunliffe said.