The Big of the Year winners are announced annually 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.
Big Sister: Leni
Little Sister: Janely
Matched since August 28, 2015
Leni Zarate has always been passionate about helping kids and saw the program as a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in her community. She has been named the 2019 Big Sister of the Year for continuously going above and beyond as a mentor.
She was matched with her Little Sister, Janely, on August 28, 2015.
Janely was extremely shy, but with the help of Leni, she’s been able to break out of her shell and find her voice.
Whenever they went for lunch together, Leni asked Janely to read the menu and order for the both of them. Gradually, it became a regular thing for Janely, who was no longer afraid of speaking up for herself and trying new things.
At the time of their match, Janely was having a difficult time in the classroom. Leni guided Janely through challenging homework assignments and helped her find tutoring options available in the area. Leni also attended parent-teacher conferences alongside Janely’s mother to show her support. Over the past few years, Janely has transformed into one of the top students in her class. In fact, she recently received an award for excelling in the two subjects she once struggled with: math and reading.
“This experience has challenged me to look at things from a different perspective and to live in the moment. It’s something that I lost sight of and was taking for granted,” Leni said. “Janely helps remind me to have fun. She is a part of my family now and I know that I am part of hers as well.”