2013 National Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year Award Winners!

Big Brother of the Year – Pat Ferrell Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters


Big Sister of the Year – Sandra Rayford Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City Missouri

Pat Ferrell

Pat and his Little Brother Jamir have been matched since 2009 when Jamir was 11 years old. The story begins when Pat’s company, RLI, launched a corporate partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Even though Pat was very busy with his career and a 6-year-old son, he enrolled in the Lunch Buddies program, a decision that changed his life for the better, forever.

Initially Pat was matched with Jamir because of their shared passion of sports. When they first met, Jamir was very reserved and struggling in school. Just as quickly as Pat and Jamir’s friendship blossomed, Jamir’s grades improved due to the positive encouragement and accountability Pat provided. “I made a deal with him that if he turned in all of his homework and had no unexcused absences for three straight weeks, I would bring him lunch from his favorite restaurant,” Pat said. “He just needed someone to show interest and hold him accountable.”

After the school year ended, the school-based match transferred to a Community-Based match as Jamir was beginning a tough chapter of his life. Thanks to Pat and Jamir’s careful and respectful relationship, they were able to work through Jamir’s challenging situation at home. If not for the established trust of his Big Brother, Jamir would not have had anyone to turn to at this difficult time.

“As a result of his relationship with Jamir, Pat quickly realized the importance of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and the difference it was making in the community,” said Jamie Truelove, Match Support Specialist for Heart of Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Pat joined the Board of Directors, and quickly became a strong advocate for our agency.” In 2010, Pat received the Heart of Illinois Big Brother of the Year award for his ongoing promotion and commitment to the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program.

Since Pat received the award in 2010, Pat and Jamir have been featured in radio spots, morning interview shows and a video about the Heart of Illinois agency. Above all, Pat has gone “above and beyond” the standard Big Brother role by helping Jamir to get a scholarship so that he could attend a basketball camp at Kansas University this past summer. “Jamir had an amazing time and was able to develop his basketball skills thanks to Pat’s commitment,” Jamie said.

“I would do anything for Jamir. Jamir is smart, funny, polite and genuinely cares about people. He has become a part of our family,” Pat said.

Sandra Rayford

Sandra was matched with her first Little Sister, Sena, in October 2003, who was just 8 years old at the time. Sena is now a 17-year-old high school senior who will be graduating in just a few months. Sena had a very difficult childhood and grew up in a rough community without a mother figure until Sandra came into her life. “I had a rough childhood; Sandra was there. I had lonely days; she was there. I was bored; she was there. I had questions that I felt nobody would understand; she was there. Not only was she there then, but she is still there now,” Sena said.

For the first six years of the match, Sandra and Sena had a very positive and influential relationship. Sandra introduced her Little Sister to many new places and philosophies many young girls may not get to experience. “Sandra showed me the keys to being a lady: to hold your head high, to pursue your dreams, to be financially stable,” Sena said.

If one Little wasn’t enough, Sandra learned about a new program between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City and the Kauffman Scholars Foundation, which matches Bigs with high school-aged students. In October 2009, Sandra was matched with Shaquila, who was immediately welcomed into Sandra and Sena’s match relationship. The two little sisters quickly became friends and grew to be very close to one another. As time went on, it became evident that Sandra did not view her relationships with Sena and Shaquila as two separate matches, but as one family unit.

In October 2010, Sandra and her Little Sisters were recognized as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City’s Match of the Month, featured in their Big & Little News, and spoke at the monthly board meeting. “They each took a turn sharing their experiences being matched,” said Tonya Jackson, Match Support Specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City. “It was a nice way to bring things to a close, as Shaquila would be graduating high school the following spring and would no longer be an official part of the match.”

Not only has Sandra been extremely involved and supportive of her two Little Sisters, but she also contributes and promotes the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization as a member of her agency’s Diversity Task Force. The Diversity Task Force strategizes new ways to promote Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City and to establish contact with neighborhood organizations in an effort to recruit more African-American and Hispanic volunteers.

“Sandra is dedicated, consistent, and has made it her goal to put her Little Sisters’ best interests at the forefront of all they do,” Tonya said. “In the midst of fun things, she has made a point to expose them to as many avenues and people as possible to help set them on a successful path in life.”


About bbbstriangle

For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through 14, in Wake, Durham and Orange counties. We develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.
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