Two transplants from the Northeast, both looking to replicate the strong family relationships they had back home, turned to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay in search of ways to get involved with their new community. After years of impactful and rewarding mentoring, they have now been honored as the Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year for 2018, the local agency announced today.
Big Brother Michael Ferrone of Tampa and his Little Brother Tavoris, who have been matched for more than five years, have been named the Big Brother and Little Brother of the Year for BBBS of Tampa Bay, the nation’s sixth largest BBBS agency representing Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Citrus, Hernando, and Sumter Counties.
And Big Sister Jessica Carter of Land O’ Lakes and her Little Sister Angie, who have been matched for more than three years, have been named the Big Sister and Little Sister of the Year.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters are adult volunteers who are matched with children facing adversity (called “Littles”) for professionally-supported one-on-one mentoring. Last year, BBBS Tampa Bay matched more than 2,850 children with caring, positive role models. The impact of the relationships is significant, with 98 percent of children matched more than a year being promoted to the next grade level last year, and 99 percent avoiding any contact with the juvenile justice system.
“I could not be prouder to have Jessie and Michael representing our agency and mentoring programs as our 2018 Bigs of the Year,” said Stephen Koch, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. “They represent so well all of our great volunteer Bigs and the powerful, life-changing impact they are having on the lives of thousands of children and youth.”
Both Michael and Jessica have already formed teams as part of the Bowl For Kids’ Sake campaign, the organization’s major fundraising event in the spring. Fundraisers help pay for the volunteer background checks and mandatory training, assessments of volunteers and children, plus the ongoing support and supervision of each Big/Little match.
The honorees are now eligible to compete for Florida’s Bigs and Littles of the Year, which will be determined later this year.