Apr 21, 2021

“Empty nester” finds personal growth as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters

Volunteering picture at Big Brothers Big Sisters

For many, the idea of becoming an empty nester is still a haze in the distant future. But, as Chrissy Reitenauer and many other empty nesters know, the present catches up to the distant future sooner than you think.
In 2018, Reitenauer answered the company’s call for volunteers to help mentor children through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley’s (BBBSLV) Morning Mindfulness program at Lincoln Elementary School in Bethlehem, and she has been with them ever since.
“Every Thursday morning, before their school day began, I met with Sofia, who was in third grade at the time,” said Reitenauer. “We would play games and exercise and we even created an All About Me book. I loved how this program gave the children an energy boost to start their day off right.”
When the program ended, Reitenauer decided to continue volunteering with BBBSLV. Through their Match Support Specialist, she joined their Littles2B Program, a monthly program that offers children (and their families) who don’t yet have a mentor a taste of what BBBSLV has to offer.
Reitenauer spends a couple of hours each month mentoring girls though the program. After a brief break due to COVID-19 restrictions, the program resumed in October 2020 with new protocols in place.
“Typically, I assist the older girls with their homework, chat about upcoming school and home events and be their sounding board if they are having any issues and need a friend to talk to,” she said.
While meeting, the girls and their mentors play games, create crafts and take part in science projects, such as building mousetrap race cars, exploring fiber arts and string art design and doing basic robotics and programming with LEGO® WeDo or Mindstorm® kits.
“I love assisting them with problem solving,” said Reitenauer. “Whether it is with an incorrect answer on their homework or a missed step while building their robot, I like to challenge their thinking to let them find out where they erred and allow them to fix it themselves instead of giving them the answer directly.”
Ultimately, Reitenauer has found that her time with BBBSLV helped her grow and evolve personally and stay connected to her community.
“I enjoy being able to give back to the community from where I came from,” said Reitenauer. “Spending time and seeing the younger generation grow is rewarding. They are involved in many things I am not well-versed in, so I am learning along the way, as well. Volunteering to mentor is fun. It builds confidence within them and me.”
BBBSLV helps all children achieve their full potential by creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Founded in 1971, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley is part of a national organization working to clear the path to a child’s biggest possible future.
“BBBSLV allows for children in the community to gather in a safe space. It gives them a sense of family and an opportunity to be empowered in their decision making. Ultimately, BBBSLV helps shape our future leaders,” said Reitenauer.

We appreciate the work of Reitenauer and the hundreds of PPL employees who volunteer their time each year in the communities where we live and work. To find out more about our community involvement, visit www.pplweb.com/empowering-communities.