Since 2016, Maritz Travel has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri to create incredible travel experiences for matches with a minimum of 5-years together and give them an opportunity to apply for this scholarship for a chance to take part in the Maritz Travel and Big Brothers Big Sisters Travel Experience.
BBBSEMO Resource and Support Manager, Madeline Sowatsky received a lot of great feedback from the matches who have participated in the past. Part of Madeline’s role at BBBSEMO is working with community partners to provide special events and activities, like the Maritz Travel Big Brothers Big Sisters Travel Experience specifically designed for Big/Little matches. Madeline has been a part of the scholarship team since its inaugural year and considers it a privilege to work with individual matches to plan dream trips that open Littles’ eyes to all the opportunities awaiting them in the world beyond their neighborhoods.
(BBBSEMO) match Marta and Ava had been matched for 7 years when they applied for the 2017 Maritz Travel Big Brothers Big Sisters Travel Experience. During their trip to Nashville, TN, Big Sister Marta, and Little Sister Ava visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, toured the Belle Meade Plantation, and attended a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Check out Big Sister Marta’s conversation with Madeline Sowatsky written below.
1. What were the highlights of your trip?
I asked Ava that question, and it was hard to pick the favorite, but we both really enjoyed the Opry concert. Actually, we both said we enjoyed it way more than we thought we would and neither one of us knew country music [to] start, but the whole experience was just so much fun that it didn’t matter that we were not familiar with the artists. The other favorite was the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
2. How do you think this trip impacted your relationship?
We had a lot of time in the car to talk, so it was nice to learn more about her high school life. Ava opened up a lot more about how high school is going, her friends, what they are up to… I think now, even more than in the past, she is trying to figure out what she can tell me and where that line is between me being her friend vs. being an adult/parent-like figure. Since we have known each other for so long, it’s interesting to see how our relationship is evolving as she is changing.
3. Do you have any advice for other Bigs who will be taking these trips?
The planning your team did was invaluable and having the itinerary and all the tickets booked in advance was so helpful! Everything was just so well-organized and easy for us. No lines, no waiting, just going right into places, and everyone was so nice to us. We were so impressed with everything booked for us – we had a huge suite at the Hilton, the concert tickets were right in the center with a great view.
We also met up before the trip to put together the packing list (as you recommended) and went to the store to get snacks for the ride, so those tips were very helpful and made the trip easier and smoother as well. If I did it over again, I would have done a little bit more research on places to eat.
4. Any other feedback to share?
Overall a great experience, the highlight of our summer for sure!
Click here to learn more information about BBBSEMO and the Maritz Travel and Big Brothers Big Sisters Travel Experience.
Author: Angela Arizpe, Digital Marketing Strategist at Maritz Travel
Co-Author: Madeline Sowatsky, Resource and Support Manager at BBBSEMO
Co-Author: Elaine Cha, Storyteller/Journalist at BBBSEMO