Gricelda Estrada, right, poses with her Little, Amy, at the park. The two have been matched for more than a year, and they quickly became close. Along with playing in the park, they love going to the movies, out to eat, to Peachwave and to Estrada’s classroom at MacArthur. Courtesy photo
By VICTORIA CALDERON
• Leader & Times
Big Brothers Big Sisters is well known throughout the nation for the impact it has on the lives of children everywhere.
Liberal is no exception to the reach of BBBS. Gricelda Estrada, a first grade teacher at MacArthur Elementary School, has been reaching out and improving the life of Amy, her 6-year-old Little, for about a year and three months.
“Kerry (Seibel) approached me and told me she thought I would be good in the program,” Estrada said. “So I decided to try it. I did it, and I’m actually really glad I’ve been able to do this.”
When Estrada and Amy met for the first time, they hit it off immediately.
“I absolutely loved her,” Estrada said. “My Little is very outgoing, so she is so easy to get along with. I can sit there, and I can talk to her, and she listens. She has a really good personality, even though she’s so young. And she’s very lovable.”
“It made me so glad that I was going to have a sister to hang out with,” Amy said. “She’s funny. She’s really smart. She tells me how to subtract... She’s teaching me because I’m going to first grade.”
Amy and Estrada love spending time with each other. They go to Amy’s favorite restaurant, Arby’s; the movies; Peachwave; the park; and even Estrada’s classroom, where Amy plays teacher and Estrada plays student.
“She takes me everywhere,” Amy said.
In fact, one of Estrada’s favorite memories with Amy takes place at Arby’s.
“We play with the curly fries all the time, as if they’re earrings,” Estrada said. “She is such a hoot, I tell you. I think I got really lucky just to get her, because she is so fun to be around. And I look forward to it, whenever I get to hang out with her.”
Amy’s favorite inside joke with Estrada involves Estrada’s car.
“I have much fun with her, and I remember that we call her car Scarlet, and that’s what makes me really happy,” Amy said. “We call her Scarlet because she’s red. Then we all say jokes like ‘Scarlet’s eyes are all red because you didn’t give her the sunglasses!’”
Even though they have only been matched for a little over a year, Estrada and Amy have formed a strong bond.
“She’s made me feel like I can connect with other kids,” Estrada said. “Not just the ones that I have in my classroom. I spend a lot of time with those kids and we build a bond, but you don’t have to spend hours a day to be able to make a bond with another child.”
Estrada may teach Amy subtraction, but Amy helps Estrada learn how to be a better teacher.
“You learn something new about how to handle kids every day. They’re a little unpredictable,” Estrada said. “You can’t always guess how they’re going to react or what they’re going to do. So she’s given me some perspective on that.”
Amy and her mother, Dulce Mosqueda, really appreciate Estrada and her generosity.
“I’m just very grateful that it was her. She is really sweet. She’s a good person,” Mosqueda said.
Estrada also likes to buy Amy gifts, especially when she goes out of town.
“Wherever she goes, she thinks of Amy,” Mosqueda added.
“I always think about Gricelda, too,” Amy countered.
“Last year, Gricelda went to Mexico and she brought her a dress,” Mosqueda continued. “Gricelda really got to know Amy after just a year. I’m really thankful that she got Gricelda as a big sister.”
Estrada enjoys having Amy as a Little, too.
“Overall, it’s been more fun than I thought it would be. I was a little nervous at first, maybe worried that we weren’t going to be compatible, or that she wasn’t going to like anything I wanted to do, but it turned out to be very rewarding,” Estrada said. “I don’t have any kids, so sometimes when I’m at the store, I see something that I think she would like, so I have somebody to give some love to.”
Estrada said she would get involved with BBBS again in the future. Although Amy was unsure whether she would get involved again or not, she said it “made me happy” when she first found out she would be in the program.