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 empowered by DotDotSmile, a proud sponsor guided by a purpose to Create Smiles and Build Confidence. DotDotSmile believes in people and helping them to a path where they can thrive.
Ashley DePottey, 2020 Big Sister of the Year
BIG SISTER TO ANIYUA SINCE APRIL 2017
Ashley DePottey has been named the 2020 Big Sister of the Year for the difference she has made not only in her Little Sister Aniyua’s life, but also throughout her community.
After the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack shook her community, Ashley felt compelled to do something big to ignite hope and positivity. Big Brothers Big Sisters offered an opportunity for her to make a far-reaching impact through mentorship, simply by lifting up one young person.
“I have a friend who is a therapist for kids and she told me once that having a safe and happy childhood is very important for the rest of their life,” Ashley said. “I thought that volunteering as a mentor, being someone that a young person can trust and enjoy being around, could have a big impact on the whole community, even if I am just focusing on one person.”
For nearly three years, Ashley has focused on being the best possible mentor to one incredible young girl. They met when Aniyua was just 11 years old — the youngest of three siblings being raised by a single mother. Though Aniyua had friends at school, her shy nature coupled with being bullied made the quiet girl nervous about interacting with new people or trying new things.
If you ask Aniyua’s mother, Ashley is the perfect match for her daughter. Both natural introverts, Ashley and Aniyua have the same personality. Their similarities offer Aniyua’s mother a glimpse into the bright future her daughter could have with a role model who provides motivation and encouragement to work through her insecurities.
It was important to Ashley to show her Little Sister that good things happen when you to step out of your comfort zone. Small steps like attending as many Big Brothers Big Sisters match events as their schedules allow have added up to major progress for Aniyua’s social skills. While timid at first, Aniyua is now eager to introduce herself to kids and adults alike.
Developing new skills together has also been a big boost for Aniyua’s confidence. Ashley introduced her to the world of arts and crafts, like painting ceramics, making papier mache holiday decorations and mixing the perfect slime. It’s an opportunity for them to bond and, more importantly, it’s encouraged Aniyua to become more creative — a skill her mother said she didn’t have before meeting her Big Sister.
Ashley is proof that it’s the small gestures and moments that make the biggest impact. When Ashley left on a two-week vacation and couldn’t see Aniyua for their regularly scheduled outing, she mailed her Little Sister a postcard to make her feel special. Ashley has been that consistent, trustworthy adult presence that Aniyua needed to blossom into the confident young women she is becoming.