Marsha & Chinelo
One year after Marsha married Lionel Davis, Lionel had an idea. It was 1989, and since they had no children of their own yet, they became involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Originally, they planned on becoming a “Couple Match” in order to be matched with a little boy; however, Lionel had difficulty attending training due to his schedule. A staff member suggested to Marsha that she become a Big Sister to a little girl, and Marsha agreed.
She had no age preference for her Little Sister. She just wanted someone talkative, outgoing and silly – someone with a personality similiar to her own. In 1990, Marsha was matched with 8-year-old Chinelo Bosah. Both Chinelo’s mother and grandmother felt she should have a Big Sister, especially since her brother was matched in the program.
Chinelo (Chi Chi) admits she was shy initially – so shy that Martha was concerned Chi Chi didn’t like her. Marsha sat down to talk with her Little Sister, “We’ve been hanging out for about four months now. Do you like me? If you don’t, that’s OK …just in case you want someone else to be your Big Sister.” After that talk, Chi Chi opened up to Marsha.
Chi Chi’s favorite memory is when Marsha took her to an Alpha Kappa sorority beauty pageant. She also remembers attending plenty of cultural events around town. “She took me to do things I would not have been able to do otherwise. If something was going on in town – we were there.”
Marsha fondly remembered a specific experience the two shared one morning. “I used to beg her to teach me to drive,” said Chi Chi. So one icy, snowy morning at 2 a.m., while they were watching movies, Marsha decided it was time for Chi Chi to learn a driving skill most people never experience in driver’s education. “I felt like Chi Chi needed to know how to safely drive in that kind of weather,” Marsha said.
Marsha’s friendship with her Little Sister influenced Chi Chi’s path in life in many ways. “Marsha always made me use correct English,” said Chi Chi. “It must have influenced me, because now I teach English. I could talk to Marsha. She would open up to me, plus listen to me without bias. She was my ‘get-away’ when I needed to escape.” When asked if she feels her life is different because of Marsha’s presence, she emphatically exclaimed, “I know it is different. Marsha is family.”
When we asked Marsha how she feels her life is different after serving as a Big Sister, she quietly reflected for a moment, and with tears in her eyes said, “You start out planning to help somebody else, and then you realize how much you’ve been helped. I wonder sometimes – did I cheat?”
Today, Chi Chi Evans is married and lives in Jackson, Miss. She has a child and teaches English.
Marsha, you didn’t cheat – you experienced the magic of mentoring.