Every year, Big Brothers Big Sisters recognizes two outstanding volunteers who have gone above and beyond as mentors. The 2019 Big of the Year finalists all share a distinct story and serve as advocates for Big Brothers Big Sisters mission.
The winners will be announced January 31 on Thank Your Mentor Day, part of National Mentoring Month. This year, the local campaign is powered by 100 Companies Who Care, a proud sponsor that believes in the ability of youth mentoring to make a life-changing impact for children in the community.
Today, meet this year’s finalists.
Big Brother: Ajay Roberts
Little Brother: Elijah
Matched since June 26, 2013
Elijah’s parents had just divorced and he needed a father figure. Ajay gave Elijah hope and opportunity by introducing him to sports such as football, basketball and baseball, as well as inspiring him in school. Ajay further supports the agency as a founding member of the Bigs League recruitment committee and the junior board, LEADing Big.
Big Brother: Joseph Chiado
Little Brother: Christopher
Matched since April 19, 2016
Joseph has undoubtedly impacted Christopher’s life, from changing his mindset toward school and offering guidance on potential career pathways. They are now touring colleges together, and preparing for the next phase in Christopher’s life.
Big Brother: Erick Serrano
Little Brother: Elijah
Matched since December 13, 2016
Elijah had no interest in school or his future when he was first matched with Erick. After helping him refocus his academic efforts, Erick began to notice the positive changes in Elijah’s outlook. He saw Elijah become interested in his studies for the first time and more open minded to trying new things.
Big Sister: Estrella Walker
Little Sister: Aiyanna
Matched since October 15, 2015
Aiyanna was raised by her single father, who wanted to provide his daughter with a positive female role model. Her Big Sister, Estrella, added consistency to her life. She has brought her Little Sister to every match event to interact with other Bigs and Littles. Whenever Aiyanna mentions something new she wants to learn, Estrella finds a way to make it possible.
Big Sister: Susana Medina
Little Sister: Hana
Matched since June 23, 2016
Hana needed someone who could help her academically and socially. Susana preached the value of a strong work ethic by making sure she completed every assignment on time and ultimately inspired Hana to earn straight A’s and create a summer book club for other kids her age.
Big Sister: Leni Zarate
Little Sister: Janely
Matched since August 28, 2015
Janely was several grade levels behind in math and reading, and lacked self-confidence. Leni helped dramatically improve Janely’s academic and social skills by working directly with her teachers, and encouraging her to find her voice. Beyond her role as a mentor with the organization, Leni supports events and fundraisers hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters.