What does it take to be a Big?  Someone that makes a difference just by being there.

Twelve-year-old Little Sister Caylee has faced hardships no child should have to bear. Family incarceration and addiction, lead dad to move to Fond du Lac escape certain negative influences.  The chronic instability in her young life contributed to Caylee having a tough time adjusting to her new school:  difficulties making friends, peers teasing and bullying her, and disrespectful and adversarial interactions with her teachers and principals (particularly adult females).  School staff recommended Dad enroll Caylee with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) to receive positive support and guidance from a caring mentor.  Enter Stacy Bonincontri, Caylee’s Big Sister and Fond du Lac County’s Big of the Year.

“Their match friendship had a rocky start. Caylee didn’t trust anyone, especially an adult female.  It was as if she was trying to push her new Big Sister away by acting out,” said Sara Straub, Recruitment and Match Support Specialist.  “But Stacy did not leave.  She set firm, yet caring boundaries and limits, making it clear to Caylee that certain behaviors would not be acceptable in their friendship.  She came back week after week and slowly earned her trust.  A real friendship began to bloom.”

Starting in the BBBS School-based program, the match has since moved to a Community-based program that allows Stacy and Caylee to meet outside of school.  Three years later, Caylee is doing better in school.  She thinks before she acts and consistently thinks through how her words and actions impact others.  She exhibits more self-control in the classroom and treats others with more respect. The match spends time together doing fun things and is going strong.

“Stacy is not only a terrific Big Sister but is also an excellent advocate of BBBS,” said Tammy Young, Executive Director of BBBS. Stacy is an organized, motivating leader; a consummate professional & terrific ambassador for BBBS; and wears her love for her Little & enjoyment of being a Big openly ‘on her sleeve.’ Stacy is an asset to our organization, and we are incredibly proud to honor her as Big of the Year.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Fond du Lac County is a United Way Agency that assists children with social, emotional and character development through one-to-one mentoring relationships with caring adults.  The agency matches children with a Big Brother, Sister, Couple or Family in a community or school-based program.  Children aged 6 through 13 can enroll in the program through parent or guardian referral.  For more information about the program or to volunteer, call 920-922-8200 or visit www.bbbsfdl.org.