Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward’s BIG Thank You Breakfast Celebrated BIG

Bigs of the Year with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County Board Chair Chad Van Horn (second from, left) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County President and CEO Malena Mendez (r) with all the Bigs of the Year and their Littles.

 By Cindy Schutt

    Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County celebrated its Bigs at a special BIG Thank You Breakfast that attracted more than 200 Bigs, Littles, guests and community leaders.  The event honored the nonprofit organization’s Bigs of the Year and all the Big mentors in attendance.

“Our Bigs are the lifeblood of our organization, and it was such a joy to celebrate them at this fantastic event,” said Malena, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County.  “The energy in the room was simply amazing.  It was so clear that each of our Bigs has a deep, personal understanding of how mentoring empowers youth to reach their maximum potential.  We couldn’t be more grateful for them.”

The BIG Thank You Breakfast gave a huge shout out to individuals, who were named Bigs of the Year, including:

*Randy Haas, 2021 Big of the Year for Broward and the State of Florida. Haas signed up to be a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward mentor in 2018.  He was matched with Robinson “Roby” Pilar-Garcia, who was extremely introverted, and having difficulty socially and interacting with others.  Haas took on the task of bringing Roby out of his shell – and succeeded.

*Nik Harris, 2022 Big Sister of the Year.  Big Sister Nik heard about the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward BIGPride mentoring program at a LGBTQ+ workplace training.  Nik was matched with Katie, who had recently lost her mom.  Katie needed someone to provide support and guidance as they dealt with profound loss. Nik came to the rescue by helping Katie stand strong in these rough situations, gain additional confidence and express gender identity more freely.  Katie now is attending Broward College studying social work.

*Howard Liebman, 2022 Big Brother of the Year.  Big Brother Howard met his Little Brother Walter five years ago when Walter was a fourth grader.  At the time, Walter was struggling academically and socially.  Howard immediately set to work helping Walter learn to read, and as a result his reading literacy scores improved by three grade levels with his other academic work improving as well.  Plus, Walter had always wanted to learn karate, so he could defend himself from bullying in school.  Howard and Walter set out to make his dream a reality and started an online fundraising campaign to fund his karate. They raised more than $1,300 to pay for his annual tuition at his karate school.  Walter is now getting ready to obtain his black belt.

Sofia Morales-Guzman, 2022 Teenage Big Sister of the Year.  Sofia Morales-Guzman, 18, is a senior at Nova High School and resides in Plantation.  She mentors Myra, who is a fourth grader at Nova Blanche Forman Elementary School.  She said she wanted to become Big because she knows how important having an older sibling is.  “Myra has become a little sister to me, and my greatest reward is seeing her grow up before me,” she said.

Angel Nava, 2022 Teenage Big Brother of the Year. Angel Nava, 17, is a senior at South Plantation High School and resides in Fort Lauderdale.  He mentors Justin, a 5th grader at Plantation Park Elementary School.  He became a Big because he’s good with kids, having looked after his looked after his younger siblings and cousin.  He says that he and Justin have developed a great bond and strong friendship.

 

About Carma Henry 20175 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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