Crystal will be presented with her award at Big Brothers Big Sisters national conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, June 26-28, 2007. This is the highest honor for a volunteer within a Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Nominations for the national award are submitted by over 400 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country.
Lise Day, President/ CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County said, “We are so proud of Crystal and Ariana, it is gratifying to see our matches recognized this way for their dedication. Through Crystal’s national success and the work of all of our volunteers throughout Lorain County, we are reminded of our mission and the reason why we go to work everyday to bring a mentor to every child who wants and needs a friend and role model in their life.”
Crystal is a graduate from Southview High School and Lorain County Community College Ashland’s University Partnership, where she received a Bachelors of Science in Education.
Crystal has been matched for three years with her Little Sister, Ariana. Over the course of their friendship there have been some inherit challenges along the way, as well as life changing moments. For example, Ariana’s mother does not speak any English but can understand a little of what a person is saying.
Crystal speaks very little Spanish and she can understand a few phrases. The parent and volunteer communicate through Ariana about meeting times, activities, and goals. They worked out a system where every Saturday at 2:00 pm Crystal would pick up Ariana. This system has not failed for the past three years.
Eleven-year-old Ariana comes from a single-parent Latino home where she is one of eight children. Crystal, who is also Latino, has helped her Little Sister gain confidence, independence, and decision-making skills.
“My Big Sister should be chosen because she’s outgoing, cares about me, and she is always there,” said Ariana “Crystal has been my friend for three years, and is always nice to me and has truly been a Big Sister. She takes me to different places, and she allows me to be who I am by being a good friend.”
They have enjoyed attending the movies, family events, the Kalahari Park, and Big Brothers Big Sisters monthly match activities. Migdalia Meléndez, Ariana’s mom, stated that Ariana’s Big Sister has been a “fountain of inspiration for her daughter,” and that a “mentor or Big Sister is very important to their daily lives because with Crystal’s help, Ariana can reach for the stars and dream big.”
Crystal, who grew up in Lorain, understands how important an adult friend can be to a child because she was one of seven children growing up. She wanted to become a Big because she was looking for a way to give back to her community. She decided on the Big Brothers Big Sisters program because of the mission and vision of the agency. In her search, agency staff selected Ariana.
Crystal’s family also has been inspired by Crystal and Ariana’s friendship. Three family members have also become mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County.” I am a better person today because of Ariana, and I find happiness in the moments I spend with her”.
“Being an educator I know how much the children of Lorain need a positive role model in their lives,” Crystal said.
Marcus Madison, spokesman for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County, said that “Crystal’s dedication, persistence, and commitment to making a difference in Ariana’s life is a true testimony to the great work, time, and energy volunteers are making throughout Lorain County.”
According to an independent study conducted by Public-Private Ventures, children matched to a Big Brother or Big Sister is:
_46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs;
_27% less likely to begin using alcohol;
_52% less likely to skip school;
_More confident in schoolwork performance; and
_Able to get along better with families
There will be a reception to honor Crystal on July 7, 2007. For more information about the reception, or to RSVP, please contact Marcus Madison at [email protected] or call 440-277-6541.