Big Brothers Big Sisters Calendar+ March 2021

Ideas and information for BIGs in The Jewish Board’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Program

Welcome to the first, ever, issue of The Jewish Board’s Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Calendar+.

This month’s Calendar+ Feature
Introducing Jasmina Nikolov, The Jewish Board’s New Mentor Coordinator & All-Around Go-To Gal

  • Name Pronunciation: Jazz-mee-nuh Knee-koh-love
  • Nickname: Jas (pronounced “Jazz”)
  • Favorite color: Blue
  • Current Location: Brooklyn (for 20+ years!)
  • Originally from: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Housemates: Alex, the Son, age 12; Ray, the Partner; and Max, the Cat.

Fun facts: Jasmina likes to build things and recently constructed a Little Free Pantry with her neighbor out of recycled materials. She spent a very short time as a semi-professional salsa dancer and has a huge collection of vinyl records. Ella habla un poquito español и говори малко български. Jasmina can’t wait to meet you and your Little and support you both in your mentoring journey!

Some Places I’ve traveled to: India, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, France, Hawaii, New Mexico, Mexico City, Italy, Buenos Aires, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Barcelona…

2021 Vision Board Goals: Improve my Spanish, dance, get back into shape, find unique ways to stay positive during the pandemic, like jumping on a trampoline!

Previous job: Jasmina worked as a real estate entrepreneur which supported her habit of organizing people to do good in the world.

Other relevant qualifications: Jasmina is also a former Little in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program who spent seven years in foster care. When she aged out, she came to New York City to attend NYU on full academic scholarship. Like most former foster youth, she was unable to complete her degree. This past June she finally graduated from The City College of New York, magna cum laude, with honors, and is proud to be among the 3% of former foster youth who obtain a 4-year college degree.

Conversation Starters

Consider these as gentle reminders to ask questions that allow you to build trust with and grow closer to your Little:

  • Do you have a hero and why are they your hero?
  • Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
  • What is your best memory?
  • When was a time you laughed so hard you cried?

What if my Little doesn’t want to answer a question?

This is totally normal! Sometimes a kid might not feel talkative. Sometimes the answer is more complicated than you could ever anticipate and your Little may have a very real reason that they do not feel comfortable answering a question. If your Little is silent or hesitant, try not to feel offended that they are not ready to share. They may feel ashamed that they have complicated feelings around the topic and don’t know how to articulate them.

Try ANM: Acknowledge, Name, Model
Kids who have had a rough time can have a hard time acknowledging and naming emotions. This is because they have had to push feelings away and haven’t had a space to process them. If your Little little is ever silent or expresses discomfort around a topic, try this:

  • Acknowledge their discomfort: “Don’t worry. It’s okay to feel shy about talking about ____. You never have to share anything with me if you are not ready.” Remind your Little that it is healthy to have a wide range of feelings about any topic. Everyone has different experiences, both positive and negative, around seemingly benign topics. Acknowledging complicated feelings creates a safe space for expression.
  • Name their feelings: Mr. Rogers once said, “Anything that is mentionable can be more manageable.” Naming your Little’s feelings for them can be a huge help.
    • “When I brought up _______, I noticed that you ________ (describe their physical reaction – tensed up, looked down, picked up your phone to distract yourself, etc). It made me think that you might be feeling _______. That must be hard. What do you think?”
    • Some kids may roll their eyes or pivot the conversation elsewhere. If they resist, don’t worry. You don’t have to keep pushing. Just acknowledging their discomfort and naming the feeling is helpful.
    • Check out this handy emotions chart for a reminder of the range of possible emotions. Read this to learn more about how naming emotions can help your Little.
  • Model how to express emotions: How do you get out of this potentially uncomfortable space? Ask if they’d like you to answer the original question. If your Little seems to want to continue the conversation, answer the question. If you have complicated feelings around the topic, tell them. Name your own feelings and model that vulnerability if you can. Try to keep the conversation going. If they are not comfortable, you can delve into a different conversation starter or move onto a different activity.

Please reach out to let us know what happens when you try ANM with your Little!

This month’s TRY IT: Vision Boards—A Great Relationship-Building Activity

Stating a goal and sharing it with another person is the first step toward achieving a dream. Creating a vision board can be the first step in exploring the goal-setting process with your Little. Vision Boards are visual representations of goals, hopes, and dreams, created by layering words, drawings, and pictures in a collage. This activity can be conducted in person or over Zoom.


Pen & Paper. Optional: poster board, old magazines, and collage materials or printouts of relevant images.


  1. Cut out pictures or words that can serve as visual inspiration for your goals (drawing is okay, too)
  2. Arrange them artistically on a large piece of paper or poster board
  3. Discuss the choices!
  4. The best way to do this activity is to create your own vision board alongside your Little (this works virtually, too, as long as you show your progress to the camera). A two way conversation will ensue. What are your goals? Why? What steps can we take together to help you achieve them? What materials and support do you need?

    Ideally, the vision board conversation includes helping your little break big goals down into the small steps required to achieve their goals. Brave souls can even implement an accountability timeline! In fact, you could suggest that they write the steps down as part of the board itself.

    For example, if your Little says that they want to become a singer, you might ask what steps they might take to improve? Could they set aside 20 minutes per day for practice? Could you send them vocal warm up tutorials from YouTube? Could you/they research community choirs that they might join? Could they set a goal of writing one song per month? Might vocal performance be a goal for 2021? Could they perform for the BBBS community?


    Your Little will clarify their hopes and dreams, learn how to create a plan to achieve goals, and learn how to ask for and accept support. You will grow closer as you share your hopes and dreams. Another benefit of vision board-making is that your Little will be empowered to remind you to pursue the goals stated on your vision board!

    Additional Vision Board info and inspo:

    • A Beginner’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Vision Board
    • How to Create an Empowering Vision Book

    Memes for Your Mentee

    In each issue of Calendar+ we include clever, wholesome memes that you can choose to text to your mentee. Use them to spark a conversation or to simply stay connected until you next see your Little.