Allison Hallums Shapes Future Leaders Through Volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters
Many students spend their summers going on vacation, reconnecting with friends or working at an internship. But Allison Hallums, a senior studying service leadership and human resource management at the Chaifetz School of Business, decided to put others by volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBS).
"BBBS is by far the most powerful service experience that I've had, because of the direct impact I feel like I've made on someone’s life," said Hallums. "I like that BBBS is directly based on building relationships and changing perspectives."
BBBS is the nation's largest volunteer-supported mentoring network since 1904. The organization carefully places an adult volunteer with a child in a community across the country to have a positive and lasting impact on the child's life. Hallums is among a group of members in the service leadership program who volunteer at BBBS.
Hallums was matched with her 15-year-old "little" a year ago, and they do multiple activities a month such as feeding the goats at Grant's Farm, watching "Footloose" at The Muny and taking pictures in Forest Park.
"My 'little' once told me that her family has been moving around a lot, but she didn’t care where they went as long as she still gets to hangout with me," Hallums said. "That moment really put into perspective how important our friendship is."
The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is unique in that the "little" is not the only one to grow from the experience – the mentor does too.
"BBBS has allowed me to be a role model in a number of ways and that pushes me to be a better person and better example for my 'little'," Hallums said.
Since volunteering at BBBS in August of 2018, Hallums said she has grown as a service leader by developing patience, creativity and innovation through her friendship with her "little."
"Together my 'little' and I have brainstormed new ways to make improvements in school such as in math – her least favorite subject," Hallums said.
Hallums and her "little" also brainstorm new ways to make their outings more exciting and different each time.
"My little loves drawing, dancing and photography, and she has encouraged me to get creative with her," Hallums said. "My 'little' challenges me to think outside the box."
Hallums said one reason she decided to attend SLU was for the active service leadership program. Through the Service Leadership program at the Chaifetz School, students grow into leaders who think ethically and innovatively to solve problems within the St. Louis community.
"Before I joined service leadership, I enjoyed volunteering when opportunities came up but never on a regular basis that allowed me to build sustainable relationships," Hallums said. "Service leadership is about growing relationships over time and has taught me the difference between volunteer work and service."
As a result of being in the service leadership program, students learn to embrace service leadership and social change as professional and personal philosophies.
"By being present to their 'little,' our students enter into the reality of another and practice understanding, empathy and compassion," said Ben Smyth, Service Leadership program manager. "Through the relationship between a 'big' and a 'little,' both parties have the potential to experience true growth and transformation."
Hallums was determined to develop a friendship with her 'little' and encouraged her friends in the Chaifetz Service Leadership Program to do the same and join BBBS.
"Three of my friends have joined BBBS and got matched with 'littles' too," Hallums said. "We go on outings together and lead by example in our friendship and care for one another."
"Service Leadership combined my new interest in business with my passion to serve and get involved with the greater St. Louis community," Hallums said. "I saw the Service Leadership program as a great opportunity to hold myself accountable, while building relationships with like-minded students through leadership development."