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All Things Aging

How Big & Mini Changed Me

Avery Gann

Everyone’s lives have changed drastically since Covid-19 hit the USA. It’s the global pandemic that no one saw coming, no one was prepared for, and yet everyone has been affected by. People are stranded in their houses, some of them completely alone for what is now weeks on end. That claustrophobic feeling of isolation can be incredibly difficult to deal with.

The people at high-risk are the elderly. They’re the ones in the most danger of succumbing to the virus, so for them, leaving the house isn’t an option. Unfortunately, that means that there are a lot of people in their homes without many people to talk to.

My name is Avery, and I’m a freshman student at the University of Texas at Austin. I have a friend named Allen who immediately noticed this problem of isolation and decided he needed to find a solution to combat it. He began spending countless hours working on programming, networking, and various other tech things that I will never understand to launch a website called Big & Mini.Senior with smartphone

He presented it to me without telling me that it was his, and I was immediately on board. I was introduced to a virtual pen pal service between the youth and the elderly. Big & Mini allows everyone that signs up to be matched with someone of similar interests that they can communicate with through primarily video calling. It allows for people who don’t have much company to feel less lonely and make friends with a different perspective on life. Both the Big and the Mini can learn from each other.

When I was in high school, my favorite way to volunteer was by going to Walnut Place Nursing Home and spending time with the people there, so I signed up to join Big & Mini long before I knew Allen was the brains behind the operation. I was matched with a woman who shared some of my interests, and the journey began.

We scheduled a time to video call a few days after, and my excitement began to grow. I will admit I was nervous before the first call, but, looking back, I realize I had nothing to be worried about. Our conversation was amazing and lasted much longer than I had anticipated. After we introduced ourselves we talked about our lives and things that we have done during quarantine. We discussed my school and her job along with the important people in our lives and how they’ve impacted us. It turns out that she’s an author and I’m an English major with dreams of being an author. Perfect match!

Young person with computerAfter we got past the formalities, we dove deeper into our lives and talked about things that have shaped us into the people we are. I love getting to hear the stories that she has to tell me – from her family history to the tales of the cute ducks that waddle around her neighborhood.

Now we talk often, and I always look forward to getting to hear from her. I can already tell that we will continue our friendship even after quarantine ends. I have a lot to learn from her in the future.

Signing up for Big & Mini was by far the best decision I have made during the Coronavirus – other than washing my hands, of course. I’ve recommended it to many of my friends, and their feedback has been so sweet. I’ve only been involved with the non-profit website for a month but the impact it has already made on me has been incredibly positive and such a strong light during these hard times.

Make a positive difference and sign up now at



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Marianne Smith, CSA
Certified Senior AdvisorĀ®
Director, All Things Aging Parents

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