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Inspiring the Central Coast: After help from her Big Sister, local girl grows up to mentor her own "Little"

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You know a program for kids is working, when those kids return as adults to pay it forward.
In this week's edition of Inspiring the Central Coast, we meet a young, local woman who grew up in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program in San Luis Obispo.
Talcy Stanley says the death of her father left her without a compass.
Now she's all grown up and guiding her own "little," as the children in the program are known.
Talcy explains, "As an 11-year-old little girl, you don't really understand the concept of your parent being gone for the rest of your life  and my mom wasn't emotionally there to help me, so I was just really lost," she says.
Then with the help of her grandmother, she found a Big Sister, Missy.
Talcy says Missy helped her negotiate some of the complexities of teen social life. "Friends wanted to go to a party or they were talking badly about someone," Talcy explains.  "She would say maybe you should invite them over for a sleep-over or girls night. Maybe you should talk about the positive things in people instead of the negative things."
Those lessons stuck with the 11-year-old.
These days, Talcy is a full time student and when she's not studying, she works full time. Even so, she finds the time to mentor Remi, who had a wish.
"It just would be nice to have a bigger sister to do stuff with,"  the 8-year-old says, matter-of-factly.  
She lives with her grandmother, the most stable of her family members.  
"Both of her parents had signed over their parental rights," Talcy explains. "She's climbed up and overcome all of that."
I caught up with the two friends at Laguna Park in San Luis Obispo.  They were taking turns spotting each other for back hand-springs and walk-overs.
I ask Remi about the hours she spends each month with Talcy.
"What does having Talcy around, do for you?" I wondered.  
"Makes it more fun," she reponds.  
"How?" I asked.
"I don't know," she says, thinking.  "Because I don't like being stuck in the house all day."
Talcy and Remi hang out--sometimes at the Ravine, sometimes having pizza, sometimes just playing in the park, as they did this day. 
"She's nice and she's fun," Remi explains after they collapse, sitting next to each other on the grass.
They talk and work through life's puzzles...    
"What have you learned?" I ask Remi.  
She thinks for a moment, then blurts out "To not fist fight with my sister."
Diane Backens is the relationship coordinator for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of SLO.  She matched Talcy with Remi and says it's been an obvious success.
"I think a lot of people don't realize that they have a lot to offer," she says. 
"These are kids that are facing adversity and they just really want somebody to be able to spend that time with them."
Tasha Arana handles marketing for the organization.  She says that time doesn't have to be a big deal.  
"Just doing the normal things you already enjoy doing with your "little" is great.  Whether it's going fishing or just driving around. It really just comes down to spending time together."
I ask Talcy about whether she thinks her time is paying off.  
"How do you know what you're doing is working?"
A smile appears on her face.  "She's doing amazing in school. She does amazing in summer camps, any extra-curricular activities she does. She just thrives so much and I'm so excited to see her grow up and see the person she comes into.  She's taught me patience, she's taught me how to be happy when I'm not. She always uplifts my spirits. So, I think I'm getting as much out of it as she is."
Big Brothers, Big Sisters says the kids in their programs grow up to have healthier relationships, better grades, and more successful careers as adults--and for the Big Brother or Sister, the time commitment is just 6 hours a month. 
For more information on the program and how you can get involved--and there's a real need for more big brothers by the way--just go to ksby.com.

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