WASHINGTON, June 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Big Brothers Big Sisters' 2012 National Big Brother of the Year and Big Sister of the Year story is a tale of the winners' two remarkable mentees, Delaitre, of Tallahassee, Florida, and Kirsten, of St. Cloud, Minnesota. Brent Hartsfield, Big Brother to Delaitre, and Shari Wahlin, Big Sister to Kirsten, will receive recognition as the nation's top mentors on June 12 during Big Brothers Big Sisters' 2012 National Leadership Summit, sponsored by Comcast and NBCUniversal.
On the heels of graduating from high school six months early, Delaitre faces voters this summer as a candidate in the Tallahassee City Commission election. An 18-year-old Tallahassee City College student, Delaitre is grateful that Hartsfield believed in him, helped him when he struggled in school and kept his promise six years ago to be his Big Brother until he finished high school. Kirsten, Wahlin's four-year mentee, starts college at the end of summer, a hard-fought victory that follows high school days consumed with caring for her ailing mother and mourning her eventual death; enduring numerous temporary housing situations; and working diligently to make up years of class time lost along the way. Kirsten credits Wahlin for her ongoing guidance, encouragement, emotional support and unconditional friendship.
"We are extremely proud of Brent and Shari, who are national role models for quality mentoring," said Charisse R. Lillie, Vice President of Community Investment for Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast Foundation. "Partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2008 has provided us with the unique privilege of honoring the 'Bigs of the Year,' as well as the opportunity to experience the organization's one-to-one mentoring programs firsthand as employee Bigs."
The national mentoring organization will recognize Comcast during the Leadership Summit's awards gala with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America President's Award. Since 2008, the company has donated more than $30 million to Big Brothers Big Sisters, including air time, leadership training and support, and sponsorship of Comcast's John Alchin "Beyond School Walls" workplace mentoring program, where employees in 12 cities volunteer their time as Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors. Comcast and NBCUniversal this month will renew the partnership for another year.
"Comcast and NBCUniversal's investment in our program nationwide demonstrates its understanding of the benefits of long-term quality one-to-one mentoring and the company's appreciation for what it means to be National Big Brother of the Year or Big Sister of the Year," said Big Brothers Big Sisters of America co-CEO Max Miller. "Brent and Shari and the stories of their Littles are why parents, schools, and community partners seek Big Brothers Big Sisters' mentoring support."
Brent Hartsfield, National Big Brother of the Year
Delaitre's single mother enrolled her son in Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend in Tallahassee in hopes that his study skills and behavior would improve. Delaitre, then 12, feared Hartsfield would move away. Formerly matched in the mentoring program, Delaitre's match ended when his first Big Brother moved due to a job transfer. An engineer by profession, Hartsfield assured Delaitre he would stick around. True to his word, he has spent an hour or more per week tutoring his Little Brother in math; taking him to museums and sports events; attending his school performances; and providing guidance as his Little Brother authored two self-published local history books. As Delaitre prepares to face his first election as a budding politician, Brent remains his loyal friend and Big Brother.
Shari Wahlin, National Big Sister of the Year
Wahlin, a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota staffer, agreed to also become a volunteer mentor when the ailing mother of then 14-year-old Kirsten looked to the organization for support. Kirsten was very guarded at the time and said she trusted no one. She had very little, if any, interest in school and frequently missed classes to care for her ailing mother. Her mother's health issues also required Kirsten to adjust to various temporary housing arrangements. For four years, Shari has been a constant in her Little Sister's life, supporting her through her mother's long illness, stroke and ultimate death. Shari encouraged Kirsten to go to school and to do her best, emphasizing the importance of making positive choices and setting goals. A steady supporter and friend, Shari watched with pride as her Little Sister walked across the stage this month to receive her high school diploma.
About Comcast Corporation
Comcast Corporation (www.comcast.com) is one of the world's leading media, entertainment and communications companies. Comcast is principally involved in the operation of cable systems through Comcast Cable and in the development, production and distribution of entertainment, news, sports and other content for global audiences through NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential and business customers. Comcast is the majority owner and manager of NBCUniversal, which owns and operates entertainment and news cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, local television station groups, television production operations, a major motion picture company and theme parks.
For more information on Comcast's community investment initiatives, visit http://www.comcast.com/inthecommunity.
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, released in 2012, 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. Learn how you can positively impact a child's life, donate or volunteer at BigBrothersBigSisters.org.
SOURCE Big Brothers Big Sisters