PTN's Brianna Strunk highlights the four organizations receiving critical funding through the 2023 Pocono Mountains Community Fundraiser, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of NEPA.
You might not guess it, but Kaylee and Susan are sisters. And these sisters love watching movies at the Pocono Cinema and Cultural Center in East Stroudsburg. They're bonded not by blood, but through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“Susan is like a mom and a friend. You can tell her anything and she'll give good advice,” Kaylee Saldivar said.
Despite a 50-year age gap, they enjoy the same movies and spent the summer tackling some of 14-year-old Kaylee's struggles with swimming.
“We can still do a lot of things together, even though I’m old enough to be her grandmother. It's a good dynamic, we are a good fit,” Susan Watkins said.
There are currently 16 matches in Monroe County, but the youth mentoring program also has a waitlist. “We have a huge need for bigs and male mentors as well,” said Jennifer Gimble, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of NEPA.
Program specialists can recommend low-cost or free things to do in the area, such as visiting the park. “That’s what our agency is here for, to help matches grow and develop,” Gimble added.
Thanks to Susan's sound advice, Kaylee says she can better navigate normal issues at home, and her grades have improved.
“I want to go to college and travel the world. And hopefully, I’ll still be in contact with my big,” Kaylee smiled. Susan replied, “that makes me feel good.”
A sisterhood made for the movies, but far from fiction.
With funding from the 20th annual Pocono Mountains Community Fundraiser, Big Brothers Big Sisters of NEPA will expand its programming within the Stroudsburg School District and create new partnerships in other Monroe County schools.