Besides putting in long hours to serve and protect our communities, there are more than 20 local law enforcement officials who also spend their free time as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters. As Saturday is National Law Enforcement Day, we’re highlighting three who are building relationships with their Littles.
Dispatcher, Allen County Sheriff’s Department
“In 2016, my cousins who were 5 and 6 moved out to California,” Schmidt said. “We were inseparable and I was left with a hole in my heart and free time on my hands. About a week later, I saw a pamphlet at work about the School Buddies program and applied instantly, and now I have a wonderful Little Sister, am chair of the Bowl for Kids’ Sake committee, serve on the Brad Miller Event Committee and am an Allen County BBBS Ambassador. I absolutely love the agency and all it does for the kids in my community!”
She’s been matched with Jenna, who is 11, for a little more than 5 years.
“Besides getting to have a sister and getting to do girly things I couldn’t do growing up with a younger brother, I love seeing Jenna’s face when she does or tries something for the first time,” Schmidt said. “I always look for things she may not be able to get to do with her family or things she has never done before.”
Part of that includes trying new restaurants and introducing Jenna to new foods and tastes.
“My most favorite time is our `girl talks’ where we talk about everything under the sun! From crushes (real and celebrity), school, work and family/home life. She has really allowed me to see things even further from a child’s perspective on things I may never have had to face when I was her age. I love that she see me as the person she can be open with and talk about anything.”
When they started as a match, Schmidt was working second shift so it was simple to take a little time for lunch at her nearest elementary school once a week as part of the School Buddies program. Now that they are a Community Match (meaning they can meet any time and outside of school), Schmidt used her days off or weekend mornings to meet with Jenna. She’s soon switching to third shift, so the plans are to meet at school more often and attend BBBS match activities.
During the last five years, Jenna has continued to open up to Schmidt and grow as a person with her manners. She went from being a first grader who didn’t like to hold doors for anyone to holding them for strangers at stores and restaurants, and regularly say “please” and “thank you.”
“Over the last year, she has really begun to shine and start to let the colors of her wings show,” Schmidt said. “And that makes me so proud to be a part of her growing confidence and excited to continue our journey together.”
As a police dispatcher for 14 years, Schmidt said she’s heard many different kinds of calls involving children.
“Some calls made me crack up laughing with kids on the phone, and some I went home and cried myself to sleep,” she said. “I believe they have led me to have more compassion when Jenna talks about her home life. I truly think it helped prepare me to have a wide wingspan of open arms for her. It’s truly been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life!”
If you’d like to find out more about being involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana as a potential Big, volunteer, or donor, call 260-456-1600.