President Barack Obama Meets with Nation’s Top Mentors in Oval Office

Washington, D.C. (June 12, 2012) – President Barack Obama yesterday met with Big Brothers Big Sisters’ 2011 and 2012 Big Brother of the Year and Big Sister of the Year in the Oval Office.

From left: 2012 National Big Brother of the Year Brent Hartsfield and his Little Brother Delaitre, 2011 National Big Brother of the Year Michael Trueblood and his Little Brother Joseph, 2012 National Big Sister of the YearShari Wahlin and her Little Sister Kirsten, and 2011 National Big Sister of the Year Shatia Y. Edwards and her Little Sister Ka’necia assemble outside the White House before a meeting with President Barack Obama.

Photo courtesy Kelley Gilbert

Brent Hartsfield of Florida, Big Brother to Delaitre, and Shari Wahlin of Minnesota, Big Sister to Kirsten, are 2012’s “Bigs of the Year.” Delaitre and Kirsten attended the meeting with their mentors. Michael Trueblood, of California, 2011 Big Brother of the Year, attended the meeting with his Little Brother, Joseph. Shatia Y. Edwards, 2011 Big Sister of the Year, attended with her Little Sister, Ka’necia.

Brent Hartsfield, 2012 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, 2012 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 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 more at