Big Brothers Big Sisters Announces Big Brother, Big Sister of the Year
MIAMI, June 16, 2009 — Big Brothers Big Sisters this week will recognize its Big Brother of the Year and Big Sister of the Year at its 2009 National Conference, sponsored by Comcast Corporation. The "Bigs of the Year" are long-term mentors whose volunteer service exemplifies how Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation's largest donor-based volunteer mentoring network, improves the odds for more than 255,000 of America's most vulnerable children.
The 2009 Big Brother of the Year is Ben De Leon, an Austin, Texas attorney matched three years ago with now 10-year old Anthony. The Big Sister of the Year is Debbie Groulik of Fort Wayne, Indiana, matched with her now 18-year-old Little Sister, Jocelyn, for nearly 10 years.
"While we have served children for more than 100 years, this year's Bigs of the Year demonstrate that we are more relevant than ever, particularly as the economy leaves more families in need of support. Many of our Littles are from single-parent homes, families that struggle with poverty or households where a parent is incarcerated," said Big Brothers Big Sisters of America President and CEO Judy Vredenburgh. "Our Big Sister's impact on her Little Sister's life mirrors findings of a new study* that shows adolescent girls benefit from having Big Sisters by developing skills and confidence through shared activities. Our Big Brother's impact on his Little Brother illustrates the importance of our recently launched Campaign for Men, an effort to become more engaged in African American and Hispanic communities so that we can serve more boys who disproportionately represent the children ready to be matched," she added.
"Comcast is delighted to sponsor this event and continue our support of Big Brothers Big Sisters and the great work they do to make a difference in the lives of children across the country," said Charisse Lillie, Vice President, Community Investment, Comcast Corporation and Executive Vice President, Comcast Foundation. "We also join Big Brothers Big Sisters in recognizing the Bigs of the Year for being extraordinary role models and their endless dedication to serving their communities."
Comcast powers dreams in the communities it serves by providing access to innovative technology, volunteering, giving financial support and partnering with organizations to make communities stronger, such as their commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Big Sister Debbie Groulik and Little Sister Jocelyn
Ask 18-year-old Jocelyn to describe what it's like to have Big Sister Debbie Groulik in her life and she will tell you the mentoring relationship has made a world of difference -- literally.
"When I was little, I would look at National Geographic magazines and see faraway places; meanwhile, Debbie was traveling all over the place," Jocelyn wrote in her essay nominating Groulik for Big Sister of the Year.
As Jocelyn became older she took advantage of every opportunity to travel that came her way through educational and other community programs. "I went to different countries: Australia, Japan, Scotland and England. Without Debbie, I never would have thought it possible to be able to go to the far edges of Earth to see things that I had only seen in pictures and to have some of the best experiences of my life."
Groulik finds it hard to believe how anxious she was, having to gain courage and reassurance from her Big Brothers Big Sisters match coordinator the morning before she met Jocelyn. Over the years, the two grew to learn that they had much in common and Groulik discovered how much she has influenced Jocelyn's decision to be a serious student, a patient listener and to explore every opportunity that comes her way.
Jocelyn will attend college this fall. Her goals are to complete her degree with a double major and to thank her by becoming a Big Sister, herself, some day.
"I'm very proud of her and can see the potential in her as she continues to mature and I look forward to our lifetime of friendship," Groulik said.
Big Brother Ben De Leon and Little Brother Anthony
When Austin attorney Ben De Leon met a second grader for a short-term mentoring program through his church three years ago, he discovered that then 7-year-old Anthony had been waiting to be matched with a Big Brother. Impressed with how well they interacted, Anthony's grandmother put De Leon in contact with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. She wanted to make the friendship official and ensure the mentoring relationship had the necessary support that would make it last.
"Ben has been a reliable, trusted and exciting addition to Anthony's life. They get together several times a month and enjoy visiting book stores, attending sports events, spending time at the lake, and various other activities," said Jeni Findley, Senior Match Support Specialist at the Central Texas agency.
Anthony lives with his grandmother and grandfather, who suffers from arthritis and is unable to enjoy many physical activities with the youngster. He says with his Big Brother, he's able to share sports activities, have someone to help him with homework and have a trusted adult to talk to about anything. Working with his match support specialist, De Leon makes sure Anthony's family has resources to give his Little Brother every opportunity to succeed.
"I am hopeful that I can continue to advance the organization's mission of getting more mentors, African-American and Hispanic males in particular, to step up and make a difference to so many deserving, at-risk youth who can benefit in so many ways from Big Brothers Big Sisters," said De Leon, who also supports Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas financially.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters helps vulnerable children beat the odds. The organization depends on donations to help recruit volunteers and reach more children. Funding is used to conduct background checks on volunteers to ensure child safety; and provide ongoing support for children, families and volunteers to build and sustain long-lasting relationships. Big Brothers Big Sisters is proven to improve children's odds for succeeding in school, behaving nonviolently, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and breaking negative cycles. Headquartered in Philadelphia and with nearly 400 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves more than a quarter million children. Learn how you can change how children grow up in America by going to BigBrothersBigSisters.org.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA) (NASDAQ: CMCSK) (www.comcast.com) is the nation's leading provider of entertainment, information and communication products and services. With 24.1 million cable customers, 15.3 million high-speed Internet customers, and 6.8 million Comcast Digital Voice customers, Comcast is principally involved in the development, management and operation of cable systems and in the delivery of programming content.
Comcast's content networks and investments include E! Entertainment Television, Style Network, Golf Channel, VERSUS, G4, PBS KIDS Sprout, TV One, ten sports networks operated by Comcast Sports Group and Comcast Interactive Media, which develops and operates Comcast's Internet businesses, including Comcast.net (www.comcast.net). Comcast also has a majority ownership in Comcast-Spectacor, whose major holdings include the Philadelphia Flyers NHL hockey team, the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and two large multipurpose arenas in Philadelphia.