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Published December 24, 2010, 12:00 AM

Big Sister, Little Sister reunite after 32 years

Family connections bring friends back together
Roxanne Drewlow had not seen her big sister since her high school graduation in 1978.

By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM

Roxanne Drewlow had not seen her big sister since her high school graduation in 1978.

Her big sister, Margaret Straley, was not of blood but of friendship. The two had met and formed a relationship through Big Brothers Big Sisters in 1972.

“I had thought about (Margaret) through the years, but I had no clue where to start looking,” Drewlow said.

Then one day this year, Drewlow was picking up her daughter Breanne from work and thought she saw her long-lost sister.

It wasn’t.

It was Monica Pavek – Straley’s twin sister.

Breanne knew Pavek and asked if she knew someone named Straley. The tale began to unravel, and Breanne and Pavek were able to orchestrate a meeting between Straley and Drewlow.

The four met at West Acres this fall while Straley was en route from her home in Sioux Falls, S.D., to Montana.

“I can’t believe it happened. I’m still in such shock that 32 years went by,” Straley said of their meeting.

“It is kind of scary when you see someone you haven’t seen in a while, but she hasn’t changed at all,” Drewlow said.

The little sister

Drewlow was the oldest of five children. She and her family had just moved to Fargo when her mother signed her up to be matched with a big sister at age 12.

She remembers making cookies with Straley and going to movies and some Big Brothers Big Sisters events, but most of all, it was the simple time Drewlow said she enjoyed the most with Straley.

“It was just nice to have somebody all to myself,” Drewlow said.

The two spent time together each month for a year and then saw each other off and on until 1978 when Drewlow graduated from high school. She went on to marry, have kids of her own and open her open day care in Fargo.

Drewlow said she always kept an eye out for Straley.

“I think I would have recognized her, but I don’t know if I would have approached her.”

The big sister

The Carrington, N.D., native was attending North Dakota State University when signed on as a Big Brothers Big Sister volunteer.

She and twin Pavek are the second born in a family of 16. Straley and Pavek were close growing up, but when she left for college on her own, she found she missed her big family.

So she agreed to be a big sister. She hand picked Drewlow from a list of names as a little sister.

“I liked the name ‘Roxanne,’ ” Straley said. “So for no other reason other than I love the name ‘Roxanne,’ that’s how she got picked.”

Straley graduated college and moved to New York City as a nanny just weeks after attending Drewlow’s graduation in Fargo. She later moved back to the Dakotas region, but like Drewlow, she never forgot her Big Brothers Big Sisters connection.

“Always in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, ‘I wonder what happened to Roxanne,’ ” she said.

Although Drewlow was the little sister, Straley said she learned a few lessons herself. She recalls a time Drewlow smelled cigarette smoke on her and asked about it.

“Here I was telling her not to smoke. So I thought, ‘What kind of a role model are you?’ ” Straley said. “I had to quit that right away.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Both Straley and Drewlow remain passionate about Big Brothers Big Sisters today.

Carrie Holland, a Match Enrichment Specialist with BBBS, said there are currently about 100 matches in the F-M area, but the need is still great for big brother volunteers.

A “big” must be at least 18 years old and will be matched with a “little” ages 6 to 14. Bigs are asked to spend at least a few hours with their little every two weeks for at least a year.

Holland said many matches remain friends after the program has ended, but it is unusual a match would reconnect after such a long period of time.

More information

  • To be a “Big” with Big Brothers Big Sisters, call the Village at (701) 451-4900.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530