Florida's Big Brother of the Year Comes From Tallahassee [SLIDE SHOW]

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Big Brothers Big Sisters Release

February 22, 2013

Tallahassee, FL—Big Brothers Big Sisters of Florida State Association announces the 2013 Florida Big Brother and Big Sister of the year and for the 3rd year in a row, Florida’s Big Brother of the year is from Tallahassee. The Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year awards recognize extraordinary mentors from a Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in the state of Florida. All thirteen Big Brothers Big Sisters Florida agencies may nominate a Big Brother and/or Big Sister that has gone above and beyond as a volunteer, and made a noticeable difference in a child’s life. Each agency sends their selected winners onto the state selection committee, and the two Florida winners are automatically eligible for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Big of the year award, which will be announced in June, during the annual conference in Denver, Colorado. Brent Hartsfield, a Tallahassee engineer, won as the Florida and National Big Brother of the Year in 2012. Mr. Dick Kane, Communications Director at the Department of Transportation, was the Florida Big Brother of the Year in 2011.

On February 22, 2013, at 2:30 PM, Mr. Smith Leveille will be surprised with the news that he has been selected as the Florida Big Brother of the Year. The surprise event will occur at the Department of Corrections, 501 S. Calhoun, near the Capitol. In addition, Universal Studios Florida has invited Smith for its inaugural Big Brothers Big Sisters day and parade, scheduled for March 2, where they will be honoring all the Florida Big Brothers and Big Sisters nominated from around the state.

Florida Big BROTHER of the Year 2013, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend: Smith Leveille is a graduate of Florida State University and works in Tallahassee at the Department of Corrections. In March Smith will celebrate his third year as Dewayn’es mentor. Smith says about his Little Brother, “He has had some stumbles and setbacks. Life has not always been easy for him, and he has not always made the best decisions. However, he owns his decisions and uses even the bad ones to better himself, I could not be more proud of my Little Brother.”

Little Brother Dewayne, who is now 18 years old, had a father who was never present in his life. He was lucky to have an uncle that stepped in to help guide him, but shortly before he turned 15, his uncle passed away. Dewayne describes feeling hopeless, depressed and “barely functioning” after he lost his uncle. Dewayne is currently living with his wife and his infant child, working two jobs to support his family and in the process of getting his GED. Dewayne said that Smith helped him prepare for job interviews and has been incredibly encouraging. When asked about Smith, Dewayne shares, “When I first struck out on my own to get married and take care of my wife and child, I lost a lot of friends because we were no longer in the same place. I never lost Smith, he was always there. Even though I am living on my own, as an adult before my time, he still makes me a priority. We are very close friends, even brothers.”

Local Big SISTER of the Year 2013, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend also honors a local Big Sister of the Year, Jennifer Stanford. Jennifer has been mentoring her Little Brother, Obi, for almost 4 years. Jennifer also serves on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is actively involved in Tallahassee’s Junior League.

Both Smith and Jennifer will be congratulated by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend at the agency’s board meeting on Tuesday, March 19, at 5:30 PM.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend helps vulnerable children beat the odds and grow into healthy, happy and productive adults. The organization depends on donations to help conduct background checks on volunteers to ensure child safety; to provide ongoing support and training for children, families and volunteers; and to build and sustain long-lasting relationships—the key to successful mentoring. Independent research proves the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring model improves a child’s chances for school success, nonviolent behavior, drug and alcohol avoidance, and healthy relationships. Find out more about Big Brothers Big Sisters at www.bigbendmentoring.org and www.purplebins.org.

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