My Little Sister’s Keeper

Julia Delmerico is a shining example of community involvement (we’ve shared some of Julia’s impact with you before). So, of course, we were thrilled when she recently received some well-deserved recognition and was named “Big Sister of the Year” by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay (BBBS). We just had to sit down with her and learn more!

Julia, congratulations! Tell us about this amazing recognition from BBBS. 

I was truly surprised when I received a call from the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Tampa Bay on January 1, relaying that I had won! It was not something I anticipated, and it was definitely a shock. I was so excited to share the news with my little sister, and I am so honored that my mentoring work with her is recognized.

How did you get to be a Big Sister?

I became involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters after departing a job in child welfare in 2015.  I’ve spent my entire life involved with kids—babysitting family and friends, mentoring through school and community-based programs or working with children in some capacity. I came across a Big Brothers Big Sisters Tampa Bay, and without much knowledge of the program or services, I thought, “this would be an excellent opportunity to not only fulfill what is missing in my life, but also to contribute positively to today’s youth.”

Tell us more about your desire to make a contribution.

I know that the children who become involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters have a great mentoring need. My little sister, Madison, was referred by her grandmother, who is an amazing caregiver, but knew her granddaughter would benefit from a Big Sister as a role model.

What do you love about being a “big”?

I truly value the relationship I have created with my “little” over the last five years. I love to see the excitement on her face when we make plans and when I pick her up. I’ve also had the opportunity to do many fun things with her through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Madison and I have attended football clinics with Bucs legend Mike Alstott and visited with Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine aquarium–along with countless other fun events.

I would say the biggest surprise about being a Big Sister is how well I get along and enjoy spending time with a now 12-year-old child. There has never been any awkwardness or boredom, and it has blossomed into an amazing relationship!

It’s empowering to know you are positively impacting someone’s life through mentoring and guidance.

Tell us more about your little.

Madison is very adventurous, and always excited to try new things. She never says she’s “bored” or would rather be doing something else.  I love that about our relationship.

My little has BIG goals: She wants to go to college in Florida or Georgia on a sports scholarship and eventually become a pharmacist.

I’m so proud of her, and I wish for her goals and aspirations to continue to grow so that she can strive towards her greatest potential!

What’s one the most memorable things you’ve done together?

In 2017, BBBS created an opportunity to enter a bucket list contest. All interested littles submitted essay detailing something on their bucket list. Madison loves gymnastics, and her heroine is Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. Madison had Biles’ autobiography and even a gymnastics outfit; she just needed to learn a gymnast’s skills. Together we spent several hours at Panera planning and perfecting her submission. In March, we learned that Madison won the contest and her gymnastics classes! I was able to accompany her to each lesson, and the excitement of participating in something she was responsible for making happen was so rewarding!

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Big Sister? What’s the secret to your success as a big?  

I’d encourage anyone interested in mentoring to look into Big Brothers Big Sisters. Being a big is a commitment to a child, and it should not be taken lightly. You must be willing to spend time and energy with someone on a potentially long-term basis. There are so many deserving children in the program, due to lack of stable role models, and as a big you are taking on this amazing role.

There’s really no secret. I’m sure some have initial struggles with behavior or engaging their little. I’ve been fortunate to have a little who is very outgoing and eager to try new things. That helps makes our relationship successful.

Would you like to brag a little on your little? What’s one of her best qualities?

I believe kindness is one of the most important qualities to have. Being kind not only positively affects those around you, but being kind also improves your own quality of life. Madison is truly one of the kindest children I have met, and it’s one trait that has been consistent. When we are out together in public, Madison will go out of her way to help others, thank people and is overall truly polite and kind. Whenever she sees another child in need—or something she can help with—she goes for it, without second-guessing.

I hope I encourage her, as she grows, to continue to focus on being kind and genuine; the world can be a tough place, but a little bit of kindness goes a long way!

Here’s a video from BBBS of Julia and Madison in action. Congratulations, again, to this incredible Big Sister-Little Sister combo!

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