- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A thunderstorm blew in from the east, threatening to drench Casper with a hot afternoon rain. Dust hung in the air, buffeted by persistent gusts of wind. Dark clouds consumed what had been a clear blue sky.

Not that the two friends on the Platte River Parkway seemed concerned. They were engrossed in a conversation that moved faster than the approaching weather.

Talytha Mansker told her friend, Nurieh Glasgow, about a rough day at work. The discussion jumped from parallel parking to car repair to jogging. Then Talytha, a 17-year-old senior at Kelly Walsh High School, teased her older friend about a misunderstood text message.

“Don’t argue with your elders,” Glasgow joked.

The two talked like siblings, and in a way, they are. They were matched together nine years ago through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. That’s at least three times the duration of a typical match and longer than any other pair currently linked through the Casper office. That dedication led Glasgow to be named the 2014 Wyoming Big Sister of the Year.

For nearly a decade, Glasgow, 37, has been a friend and mentor to her “little sister.” She’s helped Talytha navigate through challenging family dynamics and boy problems. She’s provided support in difficult times. And even now, as Talytha approaches adulthood, the two have no plans to quit spending time together.

“She’s just like my mom, my sister, my friend,” Talytha said. “She’s just everything I need her to be.”

Glasgow’s first experience with the Big Sisters program didn’t exactly work out. She grew up a difficult child in Northern California, and her mother turned to the program looking for someone who could mentor her daughter.

In less than two years as a little sister, Glasgow went through three “bigs” - the nickname for big sisters in the program. One went off to college. A second had a lifestyle change. Another just didn’t connect.

With that sort of introduction, it’s a wonder she decided more than a decade later to become a big sister herself.

“I’ve always had kids in my life,” she said. “It just seemed like a natural step and . there is all kinds of ways to volunteer and I wanted to on a one-on-one basis.”

She met Talytha nine years ago today in the Big Brothers Big Sisters office in Casper. The young girl at first hung back near her mother. But once that initial shyness subsided, the two quickly connected.

“We were just being silly right off the bat,” Glasgow said. “You could just tell right way, this is going to be OK.”

They had things in common from the beginning. Both were raised by single mothers. And as children, both would have been kindly described as rambunctious.

“I was a really troubled child,” Talytha said. “I was horrible. I made my first grade teacher cry.”

In the beginning, they would get together at least once a week. Sometimes they would plan a specific outing - a trip to the movies, perhaps. Other times they would simply do errands together.

“I kind of did anything that I would do in my normal life,” Glasgow said. “Like if I would call a friend and say, ‘Do you want to do this with me?’ I would just call her.”

From the start, Glasgow believed a good match could lead to a lifelong relationship with her little. Talytha never took time to consider it.

The friendship simply grew.

“It was just there,” she said. “It was common sense - just forever.”

They went on adventures together. Road trips to Laramie and Fort Collins, Colorado. Weekends at garage sales.

Or they talked. A new dad came into Talytha’s life, a difficult adjustment for a girl who’d never had to share her mother before. When things were difficult, Talytha turned to her big sister for guidance and comfort.

Glasgow decided she would not act as a parent or babysitter to her little. Instead, she mentored her as a friend might.

“Nurieh was there for me,” Talytha said. “Like I’d just call her and say, ‘I need to talk. And she’d say, ‘Let’s go do something.’”

Life has changed considerably since Talytha and Glasgow first met. Glasgow became a mother to two children. Talytha went from an elementary school student to the verge of adulthood.

But through all of that, their bond persisted.

“We’ve been so involved in each other’s lives . we’ve been to birthday parties, our friends’ birthday parties, our families’ birthday parties,” Glasgow said.

Talytha’s next birthday will be her 18th, when she’ll age out of the Big Sisters program. She’s also on the verge of a college, and eventually hopes to attend an out-of-state university.

Whatever happens, though, the two plan to remain in the other’s life. Glasgow has already been through college, she said, so she can help Talytha with that experience. And with those pesky boys.

“She’s part of my life,” Mansker said. “With or without the program.”

___

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide