Meet our 2019 Big of the Year: Kara Beck

In honor of National Mentoring Month this January, we want to recognize all of our volunteers who have made the ultimate resolution to stand up for something bigger than themselves. While there are over 2,100 Bigs across Chicagoland today, we want you to hear about one of our biggest Defenders of Potential.

Kara walked into her Little Sister Nyla’s life over four years ago. At the time, 11-year-old Nyla had low self-esteem, struggled with social anxiety and had little trust for anyone outside her family. Nyla needed a “pusher” as she describes it: someone to take interest and give her that extra nudge.

What Nyla found was so much more: “Kara’s taught me there are opportunities out there, as long as I apply myself. She’s helped me with everything from social to job skills, from topics in school to navigating scholarships. I can talk to her about anything, and I never have to feel bad about it.”

“Nyla has so many great interests: she loves to write and cook and she’s passionate about animals,” said Luenetha, Nyla’s mother. “Kara has supported her interests planning outings around the things she loves.”

Over the years, Kara and Nyla have taken cooking classes to learn basic skills and techniques. They’ve shared their love for animals with visits to the zoo and horseback riding lessons. When Nyla expressed her interest in writing, Kara surprised Nyla with a writing kit that she could take to a workshop, where they learned about different writing styles. And when Kara had a big project deadline at her landscape architecture firm, her Little Sister was still top of mind - standing by her side to see the design plans, start of construction and the project come to life.

“Kara is a young woman holding her own on a team typically dominated by men,” said Luenetha. It’s so valuable for Nyla to see Kara in this environment and realize that she has the potential to accomplish anything.”

Right now, Nyla is focused on doing well in high school and has set her goals on becoming a veterinarian from Michigan State University, which just so happens to be Kara’s alma mater! She looks forward to having Kara by her side through it all: “I really need somebody like her in my life. In all honesty, she’s a really good friend.”

This is just one example of the impact of a Big can have on a Little, but there’s so much more potential to ignite. If any of your friends or family share a similar passion for mentorship, please ask them to make the ultimate resolution this year to become a Big.