2023 Match of the Year: Codie, Aniyah, and Tamarra
Drumroll, please! Congratulations to our 2023 Match of the Year: Big Codie, Little Aniyah, and parent Tamarra!
This exemplary match has demonstrated consistency, resilience, and a powerful mentoring relationship since meeting in May 2016. Codie, Aniyah, and Tamarra’s commitment to the match paired with the incredible impact they have had on one another are just two reasons why they are the 2023 Match of the Year.
You might remember this match. Codie and Aniyah were featured in our 2023 annual appeal and spoke at our Women’s Match Makers breakfast in October. Aniyah was featured in 2023 as a Local Black Hero. You can read her blog feature here.
Like many parents who sign their children up in Big Brothers Big Sisters programming, Tamarra enrolled Aniyah in hopes that the program would provide her with an additional, positive role model outside of their family. “I never would have anticipated it being this big when I signed her up,” Tamarra reflects. “She encourages her to dream bigger, but she doesn’t let her stop at dreaming. When Aniyah said she wanted to be a judge one day, Codie brought her to the courtroom to put on the judge’s robe. She has shown Aniyah so much more than we ever expected.”
Matched because of their common interests, Codie and Aniyah have built a friendship bigger than any of them ever imagined.
Codie and Aniyah’s friendship goes beyond just being a mentor/mentee pair; after nearly 8 years of being matched, they consider one another family. “We’ve become part of each other’s family to the point where I get scolded by her cousins if I don’t bring my rice crispy treats to the family reunion,” Codie laughs.
“I knew her before she went to law school, before she became a lawyer, and before she got married. We’ve been through so much together, and I can’t imagine my life without her,” Aniyah shares, smiling.
SUSHI & BOARD GAMES
From board games and horseback riding to crafting, there is no end to the things Codie and Aniyah enjoy doing together- they’re just happy to spend time with one another. “One thing that is almost always present when we get together is food. We love to eat out and we love baking sweets at my house…. we just like our food,” Codie smiles. Their shared love for trying new things, attending BBBS activities, exploring local events, and even making candles at the Kalamazoo Candle Company has become the fabric of their friendship.
“Aniyah has grown into such a beautiful, vibrant person since we met… She was was so shy when we first met, but now it’s like hanging out with a friend. We’ve gone from being focused on doing fun things together to being able to just sit and chat and have the best time,” Codie reflects.
EXPECTATIONS VS. REALITY
When asked how their experience as a Big and Little differ from what they expected coming into the program, Aniyah explains, “…I thought it would just be me meeting a stranger and trying new things with them. I never thought it would be a long-term thing, but I’m so glad it has.”
Codie shares, “I did not expect the fullness it brought to my life. My original intent was to just be a mentor and be a person someone could go to for advice, but it’s so much more than that. It’s my new family.”
ADVICE FOR POTENTIAL BIGS
When asked to share some advice to anyone considering becoming a mentor, Codie urges, “100% become a Big. It’s not as much time as you think it is. There’s a false thought this is a HUGE time commitment but it doesn’t take that much time, and it’s always worth it.”
Furthering Codie’s thought, Aniyah shares, “You should always look for people who want to build you up and help you with your goals. It’s an extra person to build a relationship with. There’s no negatives to it from my viewpoint.”
Congratulations, Aniyah, Codie, and Tamarra! We are pleased to award you this honor, and look forward to supporting your match for many years to come. The impact you are making, together, exemplifies what can happen when we ignite the potential of those around us.
Interested in igniting a child’s potential? Learn more about becoming a Big here.