Award puts winners in contention for statewide honor
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County recently chose two stand-out mentors – Big Brother Steven Samuels and Big Sister Quanese Alexander – as the 2019 Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year.
Chosen from more than 1,000 mentors who participate in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County program, Samuels and Alexander epitomize what it means to be a “Big” mentor.
“Steven and Quanese completely go above and beyond for the children they mentor,” said Ana M. Cedeno, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. “We know that their Big-Little connections will positively influence these children for a lifetime. We are so proud to honor them.”
Samuels, a CPA and resident of Parkland, said he found out about the Big Brothers Big Sisters program from a longtime mentor who serves on the organization’s board of directors.
“For years he had told me about his lifetime of unforgettable Big experiences, how he has mentored and followed his many Littles from their childhood through adulthood and how much joy and pride these experiences had given him,” said Samuels. “He continually suggested that I consider becoming a Big – I finally agree to give it a shot.”
Samuels was paired with Trent in 2014, who was then 9. Over the last four-and-a-half years, the two have spent time together at soccer games, movies, science museums and many other activities. Samuels helps Trent, who has ADHD, harness his boundless energy, while offering sound life skills advice.
“I have learned from Steve that you don’t always get what you want,” said Trent, now 13. “He taught me that’s it’s important to appreciate what you have.”
Big Sister of the Year Quanese Alexander, a Hollywood resident and entrepreneur with a fragrance line, has been matched with Solielle, 12, for two years.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping others” said Alexander. “We all need someone to talk to , show they care and help encourage you. I’m so grateful to be able to be a Big Sister to Solielle, who is an amazing child.”
Solielle, who noted that her outings with Quanese are always “super fun,” also feels completely connected to her Big.
“Quanese is my best friend,” she said. “I talk to her when I am feeling sad and down, and she’s always there to cheer me up. I can be insecure, and she provides a safe place for me to feel free to open up about my feelings. I think everybody deserves to have someone that they can trust with their feelings.”