Big Sister Dannielle Charles Named Arizona Big of the Year
Congratulations to Big Sister Dannielle Charles for being recognized statewide as Arizona Big of the Year for her nine-year commitment to her Little Sister Chrystal.
Although Crystal's mother is hard working, language barriers and poverty meant Crystal was in need of a positive role model and someone to show her how to navigate school, discover and nurture her talents, and create the future she desires. Dannielle stepped in and became that role model and life coach for Crystal. Crystal is now 17 years old and about to be the first in her family of nine siblings to graduate from high school, and she credits Dannielle with helping her stay focused on school and encouraging her to pursue her interest in the arts.
Dannielle and Crystal were first matched in 2007 when Crystal was eight years old and enrolled in one of the BBBSAZ site-based programs at a local elementary school. They spent their first two years as a site-based match and have spent the last seven years as a community-based match.
Dannielle's mantra is “Where you are today is a direct result of what YOU did yesterday" and over the last nine years she has taught Crystal about the consequences, both positive and negative, related to life choices.
"I know from Day One, Dannielle has supported me and tried to keep me on track," said Crystal. "She pushed me to finish High School and do the right thing so that I can get into college. To me, it meant a lot because my older siblings didn’t finish High School."
While Crystal’s academic performance went up and down over the last nine years, what remained consistent was Dannielle’s encouraging message that school is the key to success and that she would be with her every step of the way. Dannielle helped with school projects, encouraged her to get involved in school activities, and checked in with her consistently about her grades. She has taken her on outings to learn about scholarships for Hispanic youth, to job readiness workshops, and encouraged her to apply for college after high school.
"I told Crystal I am not here to tell her what to do with her life, said Dannielle. "It is her choice and her life. My job is to help show you the possibilities of what you can become and how to obtain those goals."
Dannielle has nurtured and supported Crystal’s sense of self by allowing her to be herself and respecting her decisions.
"As she has developed from a child into a teenager and soon an adult I could not be prouder of person that she has become and I have so enjoyed watching the changes take place," said Dannielle.