14 years later, a big sister of Racine joins forces with her little sister’s daughter | Local News


Left to Right: Big Sister Jennifer Zygmunt, Little Sister Jordyn Harvey, Mother Deejae Kober and Biological Sister Jaedyn Harvey pose for a photo at Kober’s Home and Daycare located in the 3300 block of Lasalle Street.

Rachel Kubik

ROOT – When Deejae Kober enrolled her daughter Jordyn Harvey as a Little Sister in the Big Sisters of Big Root program, the request asked for suggestions on the type of Big Sister the applicant was looking for.

And while most applicants typically write traits like “outgoing,” “kind,” “relaxed,” “patient,” or “high energy,” Kober just gave a name: “Jennifer Zygmunt”.

“It was great,” said Susan Sandvick, director of Big Sisters, who oversees the matchmaking process. “I said to myself: ‘OK, it’s done’. Usually I have a big selection process and all that. So it was very nice to be able to say: “And everything is there.”

Zygmunt was Kober’s former big sister, a match dating back to 2007. The two have become very close over the years and have remained in touch even after Kober graduated from the program in 2015 – around the same time she graduated from high school. And now that bond will continue, but in a different way, as Kober passes on brotherhood to his daughter.

Horlick High School Diploma, 2015

Big sister Jennifer Zygmunt and little sister Deejae Kober pose at Kober’s graduation from Horlick High School in 2015.

Submitted photo

The Need for Big Sisters

The Big Sisters of Grand Racine program matches young women with adults to serve as mentors, friends and supporters. The program helps girls become more likely to graduate from high school, build healthier and stronger relationships and make healthier lifestyle choices, improve their self-esteem and confidence. , improve their behavior at home and at school and improve their interpersonal skills.

From March 2020 to June 2021, Big Sisters had to close 20 games due to loss of contact during the pandemic, which represented around 40% of total games. Most of the closed matches resulted in Little Sister being placed on a waiting list to get a new Big Sister.

Currently, the organization is expecting six Big Sisters. At the start of the school year, more and more Little Sisters are likely to register as recommendations from school counselors arrive. It therefore means even more the need for Big Sisters.

“There is always a need for the big guys,” Sandvick said.

In addition, PALS (People Assisting Little Sisters) are required. PALS helps Big Sisters who cannot attend events and girls on the waiting list by accompanying Little Sisters and Unparalleled Little Sisters to group activities and events.

The first match

Big Sisters were something Kober and his biological sister Jaecee Kober joined – their mother signed them up.

Zygmunt said she joined Big Sisters in 2007 because she wanted to help an organization and had two sons.

“I just wanted to do things with girls,” Zygmunt said.

Banquet of the Big Sisters on the theme of the Infusino fiesta

Big sister Jennifer Zygmunt and little sister Deejae Kober pose at Infusino during a banquet on the theme of Big Sisters of the Big Root in 2007.

Submitted photo

Zygmunt was paired with Little Sister Kober, both of Racine, when Kober was in fifth grade. It was Zygmunt’s first game, and she’s had another little sister since then, who she still works with.

The Big Sisters organize four optional events throughout the year where all the games can come together. It’s pretty much up to the sisters what else they want to do.

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Baseball-themed Big Sisters Banquet

Big sister Jennifer Zygmunt and little sister Deejae Kober pose at a baseball-themed Big Sisters of Grand Racine banquet in 2009.

Submitted photo

Zygmunt and Kober went to a Milwaukee Bucks game, Apple Holler in Yorkville, watched “The Lion King”, cooked food, attended banquets, made crafts, sewn and played many games while being paired.

Kober said some of his most vivid memories with Zygmunt were while sewing. Kober remembers making a leather jacket, dress, purse, and other bags.

Now Zygmunt is working on modifications for Kober’s wedding dress – as well as the dresses for his sister, daughters and mother that they will wear to the wedding on October 16.

Zygmunt said she did not have extensive sewing experience; she just knows how to do it.

“I learned a lot doing it with Deejae,” she said. “It actually improved my skills a lot. “

Start a new match

The match between Zygmunt and his third little sister, Jordyn Harvey, 6, officially started on Tuesday night – 14 years after the match between Zygmunt and Kober.

Sandvick checks Big Sisters’ applications, performs background and reference checks, and reviews Big Sisters driver’s licenses and auto insurance. Then, the Big Sisters attend the orientation; there is no initiation ceremony or anything like that.

Zygmunt said she plans to get to know Harvey, bring him home, have lunch and play games – just like she did with Kober.

Work on a puzzle

Left to Right: Big Sister Jennifer Zygmunt, Little Sister Jordyn Harvey and Mum Deejae Kober are working on a puzzle with characters from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog at Kober’s Home and Daycare located in the block 3300 de la rue Lasalle.

Rachel Kubik

“And then I try to figure out what his interests are,” Zygmunt said. Kober said Harvey’s interests include art.

When asked why Kober signed up Harvey for Big Sisters, she replied that it was the same reason her mother originally signed her up.

“She’s very attached to me and she’s very, very calm,” Kober said of Harvey. She plans to enroll her other daughter Jaedyn Harvey, 2, with Big Sisters once she is old enough. The Big Sisters program accepts girls from the age of 5. But some exceptions also allow 4-year-olds to participate in the program.

Zygmunt said being in Big Sisters has brought her to meet more people. Kober said being in Big Sisters had helped her come out of her shell.

“I was very shy,” Kober said. “It took me a while to be able to speak.

Kober said a big part of becoming more social was getting closer to Zygmunt, Zygmunt’s sons and husband. At one point, Kober lived four doors down from Zygmunt and his family. However, it was not planned. This is where Kober’s mother found a place to live.

Now Kober is almost 25 and Zygmunt’s sons are 26 and 28.

Zygmunt said she hasn’t spent much time with Harvey yet. She said she looked forward to getting to know Harvey and seeing more of Kober as a result of the game.

“This story was so cool to me because of the generational effect,” Sandvick said. “I love this game.”

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