Meet Robin Nathankern Arnold

Robin Nathankern Arnold will never forget her early days in Baltimore.

A shy girl of eight, she and her mother had just moved to the Pikesville community from their home in the Midwest, leaving her friends – and her father – behind.

Suddenly her whole world turned upside down.

“I was angry and awkward at the time. I found myself in a new place which was so different from the Midwest. And, everyone seemed to come from two-parent homes while I only lived with my mother.”

Recognizing how important it was for Robin to have an outside adult to turn to for support, her mother reached out to Jewish Community Services (JCS) for a Big Sister who would spend time with her.

Over the next few years, Robin and her Big spent countless hours together, going to movies, the mall and out to eat. Yet it was during the long walks with her Big and her Big’s dog at Lake Roland (formerly Robert E. Lee Park), Robin recalls she began to open up.

The two talked about everything, from school to family to friendships.

“It was the first time someone was interested in me, just for me. My Big wanted to know how I was feeling. She was patient and good at getting me to see different sides of issues. And she helped me find ways to feel less anxious.”

It was the incredible bond she developed with her Big that made her realize when she was in high school that she, too, wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. She knew that when she was older, she would be a Big.

In 2007, Robin received that opportunity. She was matched with her first Little.

The two shared many similarities, including the fact that both were from single-parent homes. Over the next seven years, Robin took her Little to movies, festivals, even New York and The Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

“She would say to me that she often felt like I was the only adult she could turn to for advice. I was so happy to be that for her – to provide a sense of calm in a tumultuous world.”

Today, her Little is in college and the two continue to keep in touch.

For Robin, being both a Little and a Big has had a profound effect on her life.

“I loved that I had someone special that no one else had. My Big gave me confidence in myself. And to be a Big is just so impactful. The time you put in is just a fraction of the value you get out.”

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