By Kelci Sleeper
Big Brothers Big Sister of Metro Atlanta (BBBSMA) celebrates two volunteers who have made a significant difference in the lives of their Littles. The 2019 Bigs of the Year were chosen from over 1,400 volunteers across 12 metro counties in recognition of their extraordinary commitment to their Little Brothers and Sisters (“Littles”). Littles and their families nominate their Big Brothers or Sisters for the honor and BBBSMA staff select a male and female winner. The Bigs of the Year were announced at our annual Big Appreciation event on January 24 and will have an opportunity to be named as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s National Big Brother or Sister of the Year.
Big Sister of the Year: Blake Washington
Blake Washington has been matched with her Little Sister Layla since July 2015. Blake has open Layla’s eyes to new experiences, like making pottery together or trying Indian food for the first times, but has also been able to connect with her on a deeper level. Layla says she admires how strong Blake is as a woman, something that Layla’s mother agrees with: “Blake has a heart of gold and that reflects through her relationship with my daughter.”
When they were first matched, Layla had a stuttering problem, something that Blake also struggled with as a child. Together, they have worked to build Layla’s confidence in overcoming this issue.
Blake Washington embodies what it means to be a Big Sister and a Defender of Potential, which is why BBBSMA is proud to recognize her as the 2019 Big Sister of the Year.
Big Brother of the Year: Mark Beal
Mark Beal and his Little Brother Standre have been matched for over seven years and it is obvious each has made a significant impact in the other’s life. When Standre’s grandfather became ill, Mark showed up with food for the family in their time of need. Standre’s mother says that Mark is caring, has a way with people and does everything from the heart, saying “it’s not the big things, but the little things that count that Mark does to show he cares about you.”
Standre attributes Mark with helping him learn about becoming a young man. Whether that be discussing table manners and foreign cuisine while eating hibachi for the first time, or hand shake techniques while meeting prominent athletes at a Falcons training camp, Mark has become Standre’s go-to person in life.
Because of his extraordinary commitment to his Little Brother and the program, BBBSMA is thrilled to name Mark Beal the 2019 Big Brother of the Year.