A decade of trust and dedication

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 06:39 PM

They were both nervous the first time they met 10 years ago. Claire Fraser was worried Desaree´ Johnson wouldn’t like her. Johnson was worried that Fraiser wouldn’t stick around.

Needless to say those nerves went away with time.

Johnson and Fraser are part of the program Big Brothers Big Sisters, which matches younger children with older mentors. Johnson had previously had two “big sisters” that didn’t work out. As an only child, she wanted someone to give her advice and be around for her.

She found that person in Fraser.

On Saturday, Fraser watched Johnson walk across the stage as she graduated from Chapel Hill High School. She’s kept a picture of Johnson from the fourth grade on her vanity. Now she can’t wait to get a copy of her senior photos.

And for the two of them, 10 years feels natural.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long,” Johnson said. She doesn’t remember much of that first meeting, but Fraser filled in the blanks.

She arrived at Johnson’s house and then they went to get ice cream and just talked.

“I was scared, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do,” Fraser said. She remembers how shy Johnson was in the beginning. Eventually they began to trust each other more and more.

Since then, talking has been one of the most important parts of their relationship.

“She’s given me a lot of good advice,” Johnson said. “I knew she didn’t judge me.”

Having Fraser also gave her a big sister to confide in.

“For me, it gave me a big sister, so then I had someone I could talk to, things I couldn’t tell my mom about,” she said. “It was like a comfort zone with her ... I could talk to her about anything, really.”

Fraser was glad they built up that trust and bond.

“I was just touched that she’d share things with me,” Fraser said.

They both said the program helped them learn and grow.

“I feel like we’ve got this strong relationship, and we’ve made it work,” Fraser said. “And you do have to make it work.”

Being able to find the balance and time to volunteer can make a difference. 

“It gives you someone you can grow with,” Johnson said.

As Johnson prepares to go off to Clark Atlanta University to study psychology, they’re planning a trip to see each other. Fraser already plans to attend her college graduation.

“I’ll have three,” Johnson said. She hopes to eventually get her doctorate in psychology.

“I’ll be there for those,” Fraser said.