Big Sister Maggie and Little Sister Diana
Maggie Benitez began her journey with Big Brothers Big Sisters when she and her Little Sister Diana were matched in 2007 as a part of the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Los Angeles. Diana’s parents recognized the value and importance of providing her with additional support. She was among the first in their predominantly Latino community to enroll in the community-based program.
Early in their match, Maggie drew on her own experience with a personal mentor, planning to help Diana enjoy life while also working hard to set attainable goals. Maggie has demonstrated enthusiasm and creativity as a mentor, exposing Diana to new adventures and places, and utilizing agency and community resources to come up with activities for the two to enjoy.
Over the past several years together, Big Sister Maggie and Little Sister Diana have explored and discovered the community around them, going on educational and cultural outings. Maggie has always strived to expose Diana to different elements of the culture and history of Southern California. Together, they document their experiences by building elaborate scrapbooks that detail their activities and fun times.
Maggie has worked diligently with Diana to help provide her with direction in terms of academics, including helping her to win a scholarship opportunity that sent her to UCLA for a week to learn about motivation, leadership and goal-setting! Now, two years into high school, Diana is excelling academically, and looking at various college opportunities, including visiting schools on the East Coast this summer.
In addition to their match activities, Maggie and Diana have represented Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters at various fundraisers, recruiting events, community forums and Spanish-language interviews on Univision.
“I have seen Maggie and Diana develop individually and as an extraordinary example of the mission of Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters,” said Mercedes Mantilla, their original primary match support specialist and now Director of Development at Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Diana has come a long way from being a shy 9-year-old girl who was looking for a friend. With the help of her Big Sister Maggie, Diana has learned the importance of structure and goal-setting, planning and commitment, and staying active in the community. Diana is very appreciative of the strong role model she has in Maggie, noting that even though she is getting older, she will always look up to her Big Sister.