Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Honors Extraordinary Mentors At Annual National Conference, Sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal
CHICAGO, IL (June 18, 2014) – At its 2014 National Leadership Summit, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America recognized two mentors for their extraordinary dedication to their youth mentees. Tom Fascia of Randolph, New Jersey and Dakotah Taylor of Bennington, Nebraska were named Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year, respectively. Comcast NBCUniversal, lead sponsor of the 2014 National Leadership Summit, presented the awards at the gala on June 17 in Downtown Chicago.
Since 2006, Fascia, a director at an executive search firm, has been a dedicated Big Brother to Amir, a 14 year-old. Taylor, a senior recruiter for a bank, has been a Big Sister to Peggy, 16, for the past five and a half years.
“Across our network of local affiliates, we are fortunate to have thousands of Bigs who volunteer year after year to improve the lives of their Littles through mentoring,” said Pam Iorio, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “Due in part to the commitment of our Bigs, Amir, Peggy and more than 200,000 other Littles across the country are engaging in positive behavior, performing better in school, and improving their self-esteem. These quality relationships are at the heart of our mission.”
“Since 2008, Comcast NBCUniversal has hosted what is now the nation’s largest workplace-based mentoring program for youth in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America,” said Charisse R. Lillie, vice president of Community Investment for Comcast Corporation and president of the Comcast Foundation. Our employees serve as Bigs at 14 Comcast offices nationwide, and the one-on-one relationships they develop have a tremendous impact on their Littles, leading to better grades, improved school attendance, and a commitment to graduating high school. We are incredibly proud to recognize Tom and Dakotah for their work toward helping children reach their full potential.”
Tom Fascia: Big Brother of the Year
Tom fondly recalled his initial meeting with Amir after being matched by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Morris, Bergen, Passaic & Sussex. “I can still vividly remember his pouting little face tucked into his tightly folded arms. He wanted nothing to do with me! Fifteen minutes later I got him to laugh a little and the rest is history.”
Tom noted that people may not appreciate the significance of his relationship with Amir, which began in 2006, and the impact he has had on Tom’s family.
“People always smile and I’m constantly told how impressive it is [for me] to make such a commitment to Amir. They have no idea … he is truly, 100 percent, no questions asked, my brother. We are family. Amir does everything with my family: holidays, summer vacations, sporting events, parties and more. I am very confident that we will stay brothers forever.”
“Tom and Amir have been active Big Brothers Big Sisters supporters almost since the day they enrolled,” said Jessica Racayk, program director, Big Brothers Big Sistersof Morris, Bergen, Passaic & Sussex. “They’ve appeared at and supported the agency’s annual fundraising gala and are the dominant faces on its Facebook page. Even with two kids, a Little, and a very demanding job, Tom’s also found the time to join our agency’s Leadership Council.”
Dakotah Taylor: Big Sister of the Year
Dakotah, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and Peggy were matched nearly six years ago through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands, in Omaha, Nebraska. Dakotah started mentoring while attending Kansas State University. Her positive experience through Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters prompted her to contact the organization as a way to become involved in her new community when she moved to Omaha to begin her professional career.
“I reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands in the spring of 2008 and was matched with Peggy based on our similar interests,” said Dakotah. “When we were first introduced, we went for ice cream and really started to get to know each other. From that moment, I was ready to make a difference in Peggy’s life and we both knew we had gained a lifelong sister. Over the past five years, we have had a number of laughs and tears. Some of our magical moments were roller skating, sharing our summer birthdays together, going out to eat. In the fall of 2010, when my husband and I were expecting our first child, Peggy and her mother attended our baby shower, came to the hospital and now continue to attend my son Drew’s birthday parties.”
“Peggy, now 16 years old, has expressed her gratefulness to everyone who will listen to her story and will openly admit that if it weren’t for her Big Sister Dakotah, she doesn’t know where she would be today,” said Katie Hayes, senior Match Support specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands. “Peggy says that she will probably follow in Dakotah’s footsteps and become a Big one day to share the benefits of mentoring with another girl who, like herself, needs the unconditional support of someone who won’t give up on her when the going gets tough.”
“I want people to know about Dakotah and me because when you have someone who cares for and loves you like she does, you start having hope,” said Peggy. “I love her like I love my family members. I will never be able to express how thankful I am to have her in my life.”