When Jenny Silk signed up to be part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Piedmont at the activities fair during her first days as a freshman at High Point University, she saw it as a great opportunity to give to others. What she didn’t expect was that this volunteer experience would end up impacting her life in ways she could have never imagined.
Silk, a senior from Aurora, Ohio majoring in biology, has always had a passion for helping children. She’s frequently volunteered to help physically and mentally disabled children, and she worked with hospitalized children at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in the neonatal intensive care unit. With plans in motion to attend medical school after graduation and become a pediatrician in a rural area, it’s no surprise that she opted to join BBBS and connect with local children in another way.
“For me, I feel like I can make the biggest impact for those who don’t have a voice,” Silk says. “Kids sometimes don’t have someone to stand up for them and to lean on for support – that’s what drew me toward BBBS. I can make an impact on the lives of young children right here in the High Point community.”
More than three years later, Silk has stood by her little sister Jania, who she was paired with on her first day of BBBS. At least once a week, Silk visits Jania to help her with homework, play games, and other things she enjoys. The two have forged an incredible bond that enriches both of their lives.
“When Jania’s at home, she really doesn’t have that opportunity for special one-on-one attention,” Silk adds. “Her face just lights up when I see her. It’s truly an honor to be able to participate in such a program.”
“Jenny and Jania are an amazing pair and have a very strong friendship,” says Teresa Jackson, Case manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Piedmont who coordinates opportunities for students at HPU. “Jenny is enthusiastic and encouraging; she gives all of herself to Jania.”
Silk, a member of the HPU Biology Club, has opened up other opportunities to Jania and children in the program. She established a science fair that is held for the children on campus every semester, and it allows them learning opportunities they don’t have elsewhere.
There are more than 300 HPU students involved in BBBS on campus, and they all exhibit a strong responsibility of supporting their little brothers or sisters, adds Jackson.
“Every year I am impressed with the level of commitment that HPU students have for giving back to the community and their dedication to the Littles in Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Piedmont,” says Jackson. “Jenny treats her Little Sister with respect and has even thanked Jania for being her Little Sister. And Jania surely needs Jenny. Without her, she would not have an opportunity to grow into the beautiful individual that she is; she’s come out of her shell, improved her social skills, as well as her academics.”
Likewise, the experience has helped Silk grow personally and reassured her that becoming a pediatrician is the perfect career path for her.
“I joined with the intent of making a difference, but it has been the complete opposite,” says Silk. “My Little Sister has made more of an impact on me than I could ever express. She’s a little girl who’s faced many difficult situations in her life, but continues to have an amazing spirit. She’s helped me appreciate the little things in life so much more, and she has inspired me to continue giving back to others.”
“No matter what you’re doing, you can always make time to give back in some way,” Silk adds. “What you give, you get back tenfold. I never expected to get so much out of my BBBS volunteer work. It just shows you that a personal touch makes all the difference.”