January 30, 2017
Atlanta, GA - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (BBBSMA) celebrates two volunteers who have made a significant difference in the lives of their Littles. The 2017 Bigs of the Year were chosen from nearly 2,000 volunteers across 12 metro counties in recognition of their extraordinary commitment to their Littles. The Bigs of the Year were announced at our Big Appreciation Event on January 26.
Big Sister of the Year: Stephanie Pereda
Stephanie Pereda, of Kennesaw, has been matched to her Little Sister Jayla since August 2014. Since then, their relationship has grown to encompass all aspects of life. Stephanie attends all of Jayla’s basketball games and school events. Whether they are having a sleepover, working on homework together, or discussing first crushes, Stephanie has been a concrete part of Jayla’s life.
In her nomination essay, Jayla says that Stephanie is a real part of the family. “Stephanie is my rock. Yes, she’s hard on me sometimes, but that’s only because she loves me. I love Stephanie more than anything. She is my best friend and my sister. I can talk to her about anything,” Jayla writes. “She has been a big support in my life for the past 2 years. She is really a big part of our family.”
Jayla’s mother, Michele, describes Stephanie as a big sister, a shoulder to cry on, a confidant, and an overall member of the family. “The best part though,” Michele writes, “is that Jayla truly values Stephanie’s opinions and thoughts about her behavior. I have found myself coming to Stephanie about important decisions or issues that I am having with Jayla. I truly value her thoughts concerning my daughter and what is best for her. I cannot say that about many people.”
Stephanie Pereda embodies what it means to be a Big Sister, which is why BBBSMA is proud to recognize her as the 2017 Big Sister of the Year.
Big Brother of the Year: Michael Faunce
Big Brother Michael Faunce, of Smyrna, and Little Brother Jaylen were matched in June 2009. Over the past seven years, the pair have grown incredibly close. Regular activities include fishing and football. Michael makes an effort to introduce Jaylen to new things, whether they be new foods or experiences.
When Jaylen’s older brother’s relationship with his Big Brother ended, Michael stepped in and began to include him in their activities. “He never bats an eye when it comes to including both boys,” says Jaylen’s mother Quimberlyn. “We are like one big family.” She continues, “He has taught Jaylen to look people in their eyes. Just to open up and that it’s okay to talk because Jaylen is often closed off. He teaches him how to work and he instills hard work.”
Jaylen has only good things to say about Michael. When asked what he admires about his Big Brother, Jaylen writes, “I ADMIRE EVERYTHING about Mike. He treats me and my family with so much respect. He teaches me a lot. We go out a lot. We talk about a lot of things and he’s changed me into a different person than before I met him. I have a lot of nice experiences with him.”
Because of his extraordinary commitment, BBBSMA is thrilled to name Michael Faunce 2017 Big Brother of the Year.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta
For 55 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (BBBSMA) has transformed the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in our community through a proven youth development strategy: one-to-one mentoring. The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. The agency serves approximately 2,000 children from 12 metro Atlanta counties on an annual basis.