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Through the Family Tree: 47 Years of Giving Back

Senior Residential Supervisor for People Inc, Adaia Wheeler has been matched with her Little Sister Ajayla for over three years. Adaia was inspired by her mother to become a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County (BBBSEC).

“My mom was a big in the 1970s, around the time it first started. She was with her Little Sister for years and they are still in contact with each other,” she said.

Adaia’s aunt was also a Big Sister. Becoming a positive role model for at-risk children was something near-and-dear to the family.

Adaia said the most enjoyable aspect of being a Big is the friendship she has developed with Ajayla. We had the chance to talk to Adaia and hear about her favorite memory at a WWE show with Ajayla, and how being a Big impacts the community.

What is something you have learned from your relationship with Ajayla?

She taught me to be more selfless, especially when it comes to commitment or plans we have. If she is really looking forward to something, I do not want to let her down. She also taught me how to be a team player. We help each other stay focused on our goals; she has motivated me a lot. The program has done as much for me as it has for Ajayla. It has been a great three years so far, I’m really happy.

How has your relationship impacted Ajayla?

Some kids might not have anyone to look up to, or help him or her escape from everyday life. In my case, I think our relationship is a great way to get away. Our relationship is a great opportunity for her to do things she would have never done, go places she has never gone, and see things from a different perspective. That is good for everyone. For a lot of us, we sometimes don’t have the opportunity to go somewhere else or see someone else’s point of view. Having a Big can provide you with that opportunity.

Does being a Big impact the Buffalo community?

When kids have a mentor, someone who sets expectations for them, or someone looking out for them, they are more likely to have positive experiences and a positive outlook on life. That can stretch across the whole city. There are different learning experiences that benefit kids outside of school that they may not get at home. Having a mentor can just give them that experience.

What is your favorite memory with Ajayla?

It was something I didn’t think she was going to want to do. The program sometimes offers tickets to different outings and was a WWE wrestling event. I wasn’t interested in going at first, and she never talked about wrestling before. When I picked her up, she was in wrestling mode. She knew all the different people. When we got to our seats, she was so excited and I couldn’t help but be excited with her. We had such a good time. She hyped up everybody in our little section with her cheering. It was the most fun thing I think we’ve done.

To learn more about BBBSEC, visit the website,, or check out and “like” the organization on Facebook

Written by Sara Ali

Sara Ali

Sara is a freelance writer living on Buffalo's West Side. She works full time in human services, part time in freelance, and is currently working towards her endeavor to create a nonprofit focused on telling the stories of the refugee and immigrant communities.

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