The oldest of three siblings, Kristina Coleman didn’t grow up with a mentor herself, but now that she is an adult the Bank of America process design consultant has made it a point to serve as a mentor to others.
Coleman has been a “big” with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) since November 6 of last year and is also an academic mentor through Be a Mentor, which entails working as a homework helper with one youth each week in the Bakker Career Center.
She learned about Big Brothers Big Sisters at a Be a Mentor appreciation dinner and was inspired after hearing a talk given by CYDC community outreach coordinator Louis Kines.
Coleman, who works from home and has a flexible schedule, says she would rather be doing something productive with her free time.
“I’m a firm believer that if you have time, you give it,” asserts Coleman.
It doesn’t hurt that Bank of America actively encourages volunteering among their employees, even offering an incentive of two hours pay each week for volunteer service.
Coleman enjoys spending her free time with her “little” Zuri, 9, and exposes her to a wide range of different activities. Zuri is an honors student who works hard in school so motivation in academic pursuits is not an issue.
“Her life is very structured. I try to find fun things for her to do,” Coleman says.
She has taken Zuri ice skating at the Carolina Ice Palace twice, to the park for a picnic, and to a College of Charleston basketball game, among other things.
Zuri loves pizza so the two will occasionally go to CiCi’s for a meal; mac n’ cheese is her favorite slice of pie.They even won tickets to the South Carolina Aquarium when they went to take pictures with the Charleston Riverdogs mascot Charlie T. Riverdog.
Sometimes Coleman will surprise Zuri and meet her at her school for lunch.
“Zuri loves that,” says Coleman.
While Kristina is grateful for the opportunity to serve as a positive role model, the impact of the mentoring relationship isn’t just a one-way street.
“She definitely teaches me to relax,” laughs Coleman. “And just to have fun. To see the world through her eyes.