HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – One 9-year-old South Florida girl who spoke to Local 10 News this week is a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, a non-profit organization that supports one-to-one mentoring relationships for children who are at risk of losing their way.
The organization runs the Bigs in Blue program, which turns police officers into mentors. The girl is a participant, but the coronavirus pandemic had kept her from participating in any activities until Wednesday.
Dozens of Hollywood Police Department officers met with mentees at the parking lot of the Sheridan Street Tri-Rail Station. The 9-year-old watched the patrol cars with lights flashing and sirens blaring.
“It was really fun. I loved it,” the fourth-grade student said. “I liked that they smiled and they waved.”
Ana Cedeño, the President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County said the police officers came up with the idea of the parade and outdoor meeting. It was their way to reconnect since the group went from meeting once a week to not seeing each other at all during the pandemic.
“It’s their way of making the kids feel really special,” Cedeño said.
After the parade, the girl’s mentor, Lt. Selina Hightower, and the other officers gave their mentees a little gift bag and time to chat. Hightower and the fourth grader couldn’t help it. They had to hug.
“We have been able to talk on the phone, and we talk about you know, how the homeschool is going, how she’s doing in school, but there is nothing like seeing your little in person, so I’m just happy, you know to be able to see her,” Hightower said.
The mentee said she was so happy that she almost cried.
“She is my favorite mentor,” she said. “I love her so much."