Ms. Donna Fernandez of Sarasota and Mr. John Sciandra of Englewood have been selected by a panel of judges as the 2014-2015 Big Brother & Big Sister of the Year. We are thrilled and honored to have them represent the organization.
John met his Little Brother Nikolei in 2007, when Nikolei’s grandmother contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters so he would have a male role model to build a close relationship with. Four years later, John became the mentor to Nikolei’s younger brother Sasha. The grandmother passed away this year. Nikolei stood up for his family and became the guardian of his two younger siblings in order for them to stay together. John was with Nikolei every step of the way. “He is someone that I hold in the highest regard and have nothing but respect for. Individuals such as John Sciandra are few and far between; my family and I have been truly blessed to have his friendship. He is family. I could not be any prouder t to have John not only as a mentor, a father figure, but as a lifelong friend as well,” states Litttle Brother Nikolei. John and Nikolei have been matched for 8 years. John and Sasha have been matched for 4 years.
Eight years ago, Kassandra met her Big Sister Donna. That meeting would forever change the lives of both Kassandra and Donna. Donna would follow when Kassandra changed schools. When the family moved in the middle of the school year, Donna secured alternate transportation so that Kassandra did not have to change schools once again. Donna has been a positive influence on Kassandra’s life and has made sure that her Little Sister knows that she is in this match for life. “Although she has never told me, nor do I expect her to, I know I am making a difference in Kassandra’s life by her actions and in her words. She has grown into a beautiful and smart young woman who aspires to be a nurse that is why I am a mentor. I can’t imagine my life without Kassandra in it,” states Donna. Donna and Kassandra have been matched for 8 years.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast provides one-to-one mentoring relationships to children ages 6-18 years old throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Highlands, Hardee, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast 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. The organization provides children facing adversity, often those of single or low-income households or families with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. For more information please visit: www.bbbssun.org