Family Service Agency (FSA) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Barbara County are pleased to name Sandy Nordahl as the 2016 Big Sister of the Year.  Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer and donor-supported program of Family Service Agency that helps hundreds of Santa Barbara County’s vulnerable youth navigate through life with the guide of an adult mentor.

A volunteer mentor with the program since 2012, Sandy was chosen due to her dedication to her Little Sister Samantha and contributions to BBBS/FSA as both a donor and volunteer. She was nominated by the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, voted in by the Advisory Council, and honored at last month’s FSA Board of Director’s meeting with a recognition plaque and flowers.

A Santa Barbara resident and communications lead for commercial real estate company JLL, Sandy joined the program after attending a friend’s memorial service where the friend’s Little Brother spoke of the impact his Big Brother had on his schooling, college, career and relationships. Sandy was moved by the speech and soon matched with a “Little” of her own, Samantha.  They cook together, visit museums, enjoy running on the beach, and visit college campuses.

“From the moment they met, Sandy’s calm, friendly style put Samantha at ease,” said Sarah Rudd, Big Brothers Big Sisters program manager. “Through educational and extracurricular activities, Sandy has encouraged Samantha’s interests and opened her eyes to college.”

“My Big Sister has helped me become a better reader.  She makes me read every time we go out and even makes me read the recipes when we cook,” said Little Sister Samantha. “When I am older, I want to go to school to a university or college. Then I want to be a cook or chef for a big restaurant or bakery.  I am very happy that I have Big Sister Sandy.”

FSA’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program provides ongoing match support for volunteers, children and their families, which helps mentoring matches last long and remain strong. Locally in 2015, 86% of participating youth improved academic performance, 89% avoided delinquency, 87% improved their class participation and 81% reported a better attitude toward school.

For more information, please visit www.sbbigs.org or call (805) 965-1001 x256.