Special education teacher Lynne Hollerbach has been a Big Sister for more than three years. She is one of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ “Big Sisters of the Year” and has been matched with her little sister, Safire Salazar, for the entire time she has been with BBBS.
“I wanted to affect someone’s life one-to-one,” said Hollerbach, 55, about why she became a mentor. “You can really make a difference in someone’s life over time and build a relationship.”
When Hollerbach and Safire, now 11, were first matched it was at a school-based program in El Dorado Hills where they both lived. “I would meet up with her at her school at lunch and we would have about an hour together to eat lunch and I would help her with homework,” said Hollerbach. “Then she moved to Placerville and I got a teaching job in Fair Oaks and moved, but I promised I would stay with her.”
The pair changed to a community-based program and it has been a change for the better, according to Hollerbach.
“Now I come up on a Saturday and we spend the day together. We are free to do more things and to be able to talk without being interrupted. Now that Safire is in middle school, I think it’s good to be away from school because that’s an age when you don’t want to attract attention for being different.
“We’re a good match and we get along really well. My background and education really fits with her needs and she opens up to me,” said Hollerbach. “There are a lot of people living in Safire’s home and I think it’s valuable for her to have some one-on-one time with an adult. She knows she can say anything around me and I will respect her confidence.”
Safire said she appreciates Hollerbach’s help with homework — math in particular.
“I try to make it real but keep it fun,” said Hollerbach.
On a recent get-together, the two talked about playing waitress and using real money from Hollerbach’s purse to make change, then buying puppy slippers at a department store.
They also chatted about a special plate Safire made for her mother with Hollerbach.
“My mom loved the plate,” said Safire. “It’s in the middle of our table with candy on it.”
When the two get together they generally go out to lunch, go for a walk with Hollerbach’s dogs or check out local attractions or new stores.
Hollerbach knows everyone in Safire’s family and works closely with Safire’s mother on the ground rules her mother has set.
“We did the Christmas shopping event at Target and the whole family came,” said Hollerbach. “It’s a generous, successful program and it’s a lot of fun to get to play Santa.”
Of her mentoring, Hollerbach said, “This is a real committment. You have to be willing to stick with it and become part of that person’s life.”