Over the past year, there has been well-deserved national recognition and gratitude for the frontline essential workers who have kept our world going in spite of a global pandemic. They have given back in countless ways, through their dedication and hard work they’ve made navigating the pandemic more manageable.
We thank our frontline essential workers for all they do.
One frontline essential worker who gives back in more ways than one is Christine Warren. Not only does she give back to her patients as a trauma ICU registered nurse, but she also serves as a Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and has for four years.
Warren explains that being a Big is two-fold. In one way, she is able to connect with a child, something she was missing since she moved from Tucson where her nieces live. In the other way, she is able to give back to a child who needs an extra adult in their life.
Warren laughed as she explained she found BBBSAZ because she was really missing her nieces. In addition, she had too much time on her hands.
“Working full-time as a nurse means I work three shifts a week, so four shifts I was cleaning the house and doing a lot of projects, and I was getting a little sick of it,” Warren said.
Warren grew an affinity for the East Valley community shortly after relocating there.
“Everybody really has an ownership for their community. You care about the businesses there, the people that live there,” Warren said as she explained the hospital she works at is also in the same area. “That actually helped to solidify my passion for this community and trying to help the people in it.”
Throughout the pandemic Warren said her biggest takeaway was patience. Every week, she was faced with new information and was learning something new about caring for her patients.
“I’m an ICU nurse, so I’m very type A and I like things to be a certain way all the time. I know personally, I had let go of my expectations of how things ‘should’ be and kind of go with the flow,” Warren said.
Warren was able to connect her experiences as a frontline essential worker to being a mentor because it gave her a fuller appreciation for the role she can play as a Big.
Warren excitedly spoke about her Little, “She is awesome. She is funny. She is energetic. She is very, very sensitive and she cares a lot about not only her friends, classmates and family, but she just cares a lot. That’s been wonderful.”
Working in the ICU can harden you up, Warren explained, but getting to spend time with her Little and seeing her get excited about the small things helps bring Warren back to a place of innocence.
Throughout the pandemic, Warren noticed that her perception of the world around her and that of her colleagues was darkening.
“COVID-19 kind of robbed a lot of frontline workers of some of their brighter views of the world. A lot of times we were just seeing darkness and bathing in the darkness of it all, so having (her Little) around was a breath of fresh air.”
Over the past year, Warren and her Little met through phone calls rather than in-person, but she mentioned one of the special occasions they shared in 2020. Around Christmas, the two had a socially-distanced and masked meet up on Little’s porch where Warren was able to give her a gift and the two were able to catch up.
Her Little gave Warren life updates that she was excited to share. The meeting was fun and uplifting for both of them.
“It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the tragedy and forget there are really simple, good things going on around you.”
Warren said it can be very rewarding to be a Big.
“It’s nice to know you’re making a difference for the kid you’re matched with,” said Warren.
“It’s very rewarding to think that maybe you can improve somebody else’s life just by being whoever you are and caring about them and giving them an opportunity to be themselves.”