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Big Brothers Big Sisters Wins Female Match of the Year for the State of Florida

Local Big Brothers Big Sisters match from Indian River County, Nancy and Olivia, have been awarded the Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida’s (BBBSAF) highest honor: Match of the Year.

The Association represents all eleven BBBS agencies across Florida and each year is tasked with choosing two exceptional pairs from the thousands of professionally managed mentoring teams across the state. The mentor, “Big,” and mentee, “Little” spend an hour a week focused on social, emotional and behavioral support that is rooted in individual needs and interests. The Big works alongside the Little’s family and Match Support Specialist to create safe learning environments and fun local experiences.

Olivia lives with her grandparents and faced issues being comfortable learning and feeling stable. Her aversion to learning to read caused her grandparents to worry. Because her grandmother had previous experience with a family member benefitting from the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters, she knew this was the place to seek help. “Olivia told me her Big always listens to her and helps her to figure out how she can do things differently to achieve the best result. I have seen more confidence with not only her reading and math but her attitude as well,” said her Grandma Deb.

Nancy and Olivia were matched four years ago and even during quarantine were able to connect through Zoom with books and materials provided to both the Big and Little to accomplish “together but apart,” activities said Match Support Specialist Kari Tankersly. “I have been blessed to see the BBBS model in live action form over the years of working with Olivia and Nancy. Their commitment to one another is admirable and something to be desired. I am truly honored they allow me to know them and be part of their lives. It has been an amazing journey and I am so excited to see where these two will go.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters has served the Treasure Coast since 1984 and the joy of seeing such successful mentorship is felt by everyone who comes in contact with this mentoring model. CEO Stacey Watson-Mesley said, “Mentoring is absolutely the most powerful way responsible adults can give back to our communities and children. It is a small investment of the gift of time, consistency and lived experience, which are three of the greatest ways to support young people as they grow.”

Olivia, now nine, who was matched with Nancy when she was five, agrees. When asked what makes her Big Sister Nancy special, Olivia said, “She always makes me feel loved. She is always there for me and makes me feel comfortable. She always wants to know how I am and my opinion during our conversations. She helps me with my school work when I am having problems or if I have a bad day she helps me figure out what I can do differently next time.” Olivia is excelling at school and recently was named a 2022 Young Scientist and had her artwork as one of only 50 student pieces displayed at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.

“Congratulations to our Florida Big Sister and Little Sister of the Year, Nancy and Olivia, as well as the Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties Agency. This match, which is in its fourth year, exemplifies our vision of meaningful one-to-one mentoring relationships that help youth reach their full potential,” said BBBSAF State CEO Dan Prinzing.

If you are interested in volunteering to become a Big Brother or Big Sister, or have a child that could benefit from mentoring, please call 772-466-8535 or visit the BBBS website at www.bbbsbigs.org.

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