Lawrenceburg woman, man named Big Sister, Big Brother of the year
Submitted photos: Kristi Eberhart, recently named Big Sister of the year for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati, has mentored Hope for nine years. Hope recently graduated from East Central High School, St. Leon. She will pursue an art degree at Vincennes University.
A Lawrenceburg woman and a Lawrenceburg man have been named Big Sister and Big Brother of the year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati for their enthusiasm, dedication, and reliability toward making life better for two Dearborn County kids.
When Kristi Eberhart was matched with her Little Sister, Hope, nearly nine years ago, Hope was shy and quiet and not at all sure about whether to trust this “Big Sister” who wanted to be her friend.
Eberhart, however, comes complete with an enthusiasm for life and a friendly, infectious personality that slowly won over Hope, who opened up. Still, Eberhart said it took a long time for Hope to fully trust her, and knew consistency was among the keys to making their friendship work.
Hope’s life at home can be unstable and dysfunctional, but Eberhart does all she can to see Hope regularly and encourages her to work hard in school and get involved in extracurricular activities.
“No matter what was going on in her life, Hope always did her best in school, volunteered at the food pantry in Bright, and participated in sports,” said Eberhart.
After early academic struggles, Hope began to re-focus on her grades with help and encouragement from her Big Sister. The result was better grades, more friends, increased self-confidence, a member of the high school swim and track teams, and the desire to pursue a college education.
Little Sister Hope just graduated from East Central High School, St. Leon. She will pursue an art degree at Vincennes University.
Eberhart’s understanding of the importance and impact of mentoring goes beyond her role as Hope’s Big Sister. She is a program coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati and works with other Bigs and Littles every day.
She credits her own Match Support Specialist with helping her navigate challenges she and Hope ran into through the years. Now, nearly nine years into her match with Hope, Kristi says, “That shy and introverted girl now talks with me from the minute I pick her up until I drop her off.
She’s a successful, caring, amazing young adult. It is an amazing opportunity to support another person on their life journey, and I will be Hope’s cheerleader for the rest of our lives!”
Del Weldon believes it’s important to be involved in his community, and that focusing on helping children is critical for the future. That’s why he reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati to become a volunteer mentor.
Weldon said that if people try to make a difference every day, even in a small way, the effort will have a positive impact.
A mentor for 3 ½ years, Weldon matched with Little Brother Trenton in the Site-Based program. The two meet at Trenton’s school in Lawrenceburg once a week during the school year.
In the beginning, Trenton needed help with academic and social skills. As the two bonded over their shared enjoyment of board games and building with Legos, Weldon’s consistent visits made an impression on Trenton, who began to trust his Big Brother and talk with him about his challenges.
Trenton just finished fifth grade and the two are looking forward to resuming their visits in the fall.
“Trenton impresses me so much because he’s always positive and outgoing, always has a smile on his face,” said Weldon.
Trenton’s grades and social skills have improved, evidence that Weldon’s philosophy has an impact.
In addition to being a Big Brother, Weldon is a long-time sponsor of the agency’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake events.
He is a partner in the law firm Zerbe, Garner, Blondell & Weldon, which has been a sponsor for several years. This year, Weldon played guitar and sang at the Indiana Bowl For Kids’ Sake at Durbin Bowl.
“I am incredibly proud of the young man he is becoming and all of the great things he has accomplished while we have been together,” said Weldon.
“I am certain he is teaching me more than I could teach him, but I am very grateful to be able to spend time with him and help him grow. He is a terrific person and an inspiration for me.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati serves children in 11 counties in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.
Four-hundred children are on the waiting list, with parents and guardians calling the agency every day hoping to have their child paired with a mentor.
Ninety-nine percent of children served are in school and not involved with the juvenile justice system. You can help Big Brothers Big Sisters create more life-changing friendships.
For more information, visit www.bigsforkids.org, or call 513-421-4120.