Long-time Mentors to Win Special Honor at Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
National Conference, Sponsored by Comcast and NBCUniversal
DENVER, June 25, 2013
DENVER, June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --A Fort Wayne, Indiana TV news anchor and
a Peoria, Illinois insurance executive are this year's national Big Sister and
Big Brother of the Year. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America selects the
winners from hundreds of submissions from the mentoring network's 340 local
agencies across the country. Comcast and NBCUniversal, as part of its
sponsorship of the 2013 Big Brothers Big Sisters of America National
Conference, will present the awards at a gala in Denver on June 25.
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110613/PH17540LOGO )
Pat Ferrell, matched through Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters, has
been Big Brother to 16-year-old Jamir since 2009. Alyssa Ivanson, matched
through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana, has been Big Sister to
18-year-old Jordain since 2007.
"The best proof of our top 'Bigs' greatness are their 'Littles,'" said Big
Brothers Big Sisters of America President and CEO Charles Pierson. "Big
Brothers Big Sisters holds itself accountable for specific outcomes, helping
youth improve in school, behavior and self-esteem. The stories of Jamir and
Jordain reflect the dedication of their amazing mentors."
"Pat and Alyssa are national role models for us all, and understand how
one-to-one mentoring changes lives for the better," said Charisse R. Lillie,
Vice President of Community Investment for Comcast Corporation and President
of the Comcast Foundation. "We are honored to partner with Big Brothers Big
Sisters in operating the nation's largest workplace mentoring program, which
gives our employees the opportunity to experience firsthand the power of
helping our youth succeed."
When Big Brothers Big Sisters introduced Fort Wayne, Indiana WANE-TV health
reporter-anchor Alyssa Ivanson to Jordain, she knew almost instantly that
there was something extraordinary about the 12-year-old girl.Ivanson noted
her new Little Sister was extremely shy and had difficulty making contact with
her. Shortly after their mentoring match began, medical experts diagnosed
Jordain with Asperger's Syndrome.
Ivanson worked closely with her Little Sister's mother to do everything in
their power to help the pre-teen conquer her communication challenges. She
has watched her Little Sister make steady progress, becoming more confident,
making eye contact during conversations -- even placing her own order at
"It was a steady process that began with scrapbooking. It's a hobby we both
enjoy and working so closely on something so personal helped build trust,"
Over the years, the two have attended social functions; gone horseback riding;
and attended movies and theatrical performances. Jordain also joins Ivanson
for public appearances her Big Sister makes as part of the community service
that comes with her high-profile job.
"I always felt safe with her," Jordain said. "She's been extremely supportive
when it comes to me, and she also gives me an honest opinion on whatever I
ask. I feel like my life would've been completely different if I didn't have
Alyssa as a part of it. She's a great friend and an even better Big Sister."
"While I was encouraging Jordain to step out of her comfort zone, she was
pushing me out of mine. I wanted to make a difference in a little girl's
life. That little girl ended up changing mine forever," Ivanson said.
"We nominated Alyssa for this award because of her passion and sincerity
toward our mission, and more importantly her Little Jordain," says Big
Brothers Big Sisters Chief Executive Officer Josette Rider. "She always takes
into consideration Jordain's best interest when choosing activities and
utilizes her visibility in the community to expose her to things that have a
direct impact on overcoming her personal challenges. Alyssa is a champion, a
fantastic mentor and worthy of this award in every way."
Pat Ferrell expected his Big Brother commitment to last at most a year and be
limited to visits to his Little Brother's school. That was the agreement he
made when his employer, RLI, launched a corporate partnership with Heart of
Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters' Peoria office. With a six-year-old son at
home and a busy career, he could not imagine that he would have more time to
spend as a volunteer mentor. Then he met Jamir, his eleven-year-old Little
"We initially connected on one level – our love for sports," Ferrell said.
"Jamir was pretty reserved and struggling academically. But as fast as our
friendship blossomed, his grades improved."
The noticeable progress was enough to encourage Ferrell to do more. He made a
deal with his Little Brother, promising that if he turned in all of his
homework and had no unexcused absences for three straight weeks, he would take
him to his favorite restaurant.
Jamir held his Big Brother to the bargain, letting him know the day and time
he could meet him atJimmy John's for subs. Before Ferrell knew it, he was
applying to be Jamir's Big Brother outside of school in the agency's
community-based mentoring program. Jimmy John's became a frequent meet-up
"Pat has helped me really focus on my school work by giving me incentives or
goals to meet. As I started reaching those goals, I noticed that everything he
was preaching started to make sense and it was all setting in," Jamir said.
"The national Bigs of the Year should be more than great mentors; they should
bring new meaning to the concept going above and beyond. Pat Ferrell is that
Big," Match Specialist Jami Truelove said.
Last summer, Ferrell helped Jamir get a scholarship to attend a premier
basketball camp at Kansas University. Jamir had an amazing time and was able
to improve his basketball skills. Ferrell is driven to help his Little Brother
maintain a clear perspective of important aspects of life off the court as
"If you asked Jamir to name his favorite activity we do together, it has
nothing to do with basketball or going to movies, or bowling, or anything like
that," Ferrell said. "It's just coming over to our house and hanging out. I
would do anything for Jamir. He's smart, funny, polite and genuinely cares
about people. He has become a part of our family."
Special Note: Applicants for the Big Brother of the Year and Big Sister of
the Year awards commit to being available with their Littles for the awards
gala and other appearances for 12 months. Shortly after receiving the initial
2013 Bigs of the Year results from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City,
Sandra Rayford, an original frontrunner, learned her Little Sister, Sena, had
enlisted in the U.S. Navy and would, therefore, be unable to make the
commitment. Given the special circumstances, Big Brothers Big Sisters of
America will also recognize Rayford during the Bigs of the Year awards
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation's largest donor and volunteer supported
mentoring network, holds itself accountable for children in its program to
achieve measurable outcomes, such as educational success; avoidance of risky
behaviors; and higher aspirations, greater confidence and better
relationships. Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and
others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children
("Littles") with screened volunteer mentors ("Bigs") and monitors and supports
these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. The first-ever
Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Summary substantiates that its
mentoring programs have proven, positive academic, socio-emotional and
behavioral outcomes for youth, areas linked to high school graduation,
avoidance of juvenile delinquency and college or job readiness.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity, often those of
single or low-income households or families where a parent is incarcerated or
serving in the military, with strong and enduring, professionally supported
one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better,
forever. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization's 100-year
history. With about 350 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters
serves nearly 630,000 children, volunteers and families. The organization is
engaged in a nationwide search to reunite with alumni mentors, mentees,
donors, and family, staff and board members. Learn more at
SOURCE Big Brothers Big Sisters
Contact: Kelly Williams, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Office:
215-665-7795, Cell: 267-978-0687, firstname.lastname@example.org
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