2021 Bigs of the Year

Big of the Year: Big Sister Krista Wozniak

Little Sister Mia’s mom, Vanessa, reflects on how Big Sister Krista impacted Mia’s life:

“A few years ago, our family went through some unexpected trauma, and I was suddenly filling the role of mother, father, and friend for my children. My 13-year-old daughter, Mia, struggled in the aftermath, and I knew I couldn’t help her alone. I reached out to BBBS, and Mia was quickly matched with Krista. Although Mia was hesitant at first, they grew close quickly, and I felt relieved to have Krista’s support.

Less than a year later, we found out Mia was pregnant. Krista jumped right in, reading books about pregnancy, organizing a baby shower, and offering help to our family. But alongside these efforts, Krista helped Mia stay focused on school, which kept her from falling behind after Leila was born. Krista is always there to support Mia, whether it’s homework or a teething baby. 

With Krista’s support, Mia has gone through a transformation. She’s learning how to balance school and motherhood, and wants to go to college to become a nurse. She is a great mom to Leila, and looks forward to a happy life. Mia and I treasure our relationships with Krista. She’s become part of our family.”

Big Brother of the Year: Andres Gomez Gonzalez

Through two years in the School Friends program, Big Brother Andres and Little Brother Johnny developed a strong relationship. When Johnny entered high school, they transitioned to the Community-Based program, and their connection grew even deeper. Johnny’s parents noticed an improvement in his grades and dedication to school. They saw Johnny make smarter decisions about friends, and who he spent his time with. The evidence was clear–this relationship mattered.

The last couple of years introduced new challenges to the Match, but the small investments made over several years have given them a strong foundation to endure, together. When Andres’s career took him to Milwaukee, they continued to meet 2-3 times a month, despite the drive. And when the pandemic hit, they found new and enjoyable ways to connect virtually. Their relationship was strong when it was easy, and thanks to their commitment to each other, it became even stronger when it was hard. Because no matter the adversity, distance, and major life changes, Andres isn’t going anywhere.

Big Family of the Year: Danielson Family

When Dreyan was first matched with Nicky, Michael, and their daughter Jada, he was struggling academically and socially in school, and was participating in a program to help him catch up. The Big Family jumped right in, getting to know Dreyan through their weekly outings. But Nicky wanted to do even more, and with the support of Dreyan’s mom, started volunteering regularly in his classroom–and continued to do so for his entire 2nd grade year. Dreyan had a desire to improve and grow, so with the combined efforts of an engaged parent, a dedicated teacher, and an invested Big Family, Dreyan started to soar.

His school work improved, as did his interactions with his peers. He was able to graduate from his program, but still chooses to attend in order to help other students who also need a little boost. Dreyan learned to take pride in school and see value in himself. And now, he’s leading as he shares those same lessons with his peers. 

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