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MATCH SPOTLIGHT: Meet Little Asante & Big Praveen “One of the greatest things Praveen has given me is that he's always been there for me. If I try something new and it fails, it’s okay, and he encourages me to try something new again”, said Asante. “Praveen has played a huge role in making me into the person I am today by helping me to think about the consequences of both my words and my actions. This is not something he taught me with his words, but he has taught me through his actions” said Asante.

Praveen (left) and Asante at this year’s Kicks for Kids’ Sake event

Asante and Praveen have been matched since 2006. Praveen has been by Asante’s side to watch him grow from a young boy into a confident, smart, talented young man. As Asante’s Big, Praveen took it upon himself to introduce new experiences to Asante based on his interests. “I would always say let’s try something different as I feel it is a valuable aspect a Big can bring to their Little’s life”, said Praveen. Such an important part of being a Big is to just listen and be somebody your Little can trust. “Asante's openness with me over the years as he has faced different challenges has really served as an affirmation to the role I’ve played in his life”, commented Praveen.

“He has also fostered a charitable spirit in me by bringing me to the VFW and inspired my creativity with outings to places like the arboretum. This exposed me to so many beautiful flowers & species of plants that absolutely inspired me”, Asante shared. Praveen said, “Asante has also impressed me with his ability to always maintain a positive attitude. Rather than focus on things he doesn't have he finds appreciation for all he does have. Asante is so intelligent and talented and I feel grateful for any role I have played in helping him stay on a track that will enable him to utilize those talents and intelligence. We have both brought so much to each other's lives. Becoming a Big Brother was one of the best things I ever did and the organization has been absolutely amazing and supportive”. Winter 2015

Clothing Drive Challenge The Donation Center has launched a new program called the “Clothing Drive Challenge”, designed for corporations, schools, sports clubs and other organizations eager to support our mentoring program. The Challenge goal consists of collecting at least 200 bags or boxes of clothing, shoes and small household goods per drive. Achieving this goal translates into the funding needed to conduct the professional background checks required to approve a “Big” before they can be matched to a “Little”. In 2014, the Challenge collected 52,880 pounds of clothing for BBBSLI. Of the 69 organizations that participated, ClearVision Optical in Hauppauge, was the most successful collecting a whopping 12,153 pounds. Penske Truck Rental took the Clothing Drive Challenge in 14 of their offices across four states and brought in over 6,000 pounds of clothing. In addition to businesses, several schools and youth sports clubs also participated. Separate from the goal of 200 bags or boxes, some organizations added specific collection requests. The Kindergarten Class of Indian Hollow School, included the request of collecting brand new hats, mittens and scarves which were then distributed as part of our Holiday for Kids’ Sake program. Not only are those taking part in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island Clothing Drive Challenge succeeding, but they are having a great time doing it!

Employees from Penske Truck Rental took the Clothing Drive Challenge and brought in over 6,000 lbs of clothing

The Kindergarten Class of Indian Hollow School

If interested in conducting your own “Clothing Drive Challenge” please contact: Joanne Kassebaum at (631) 234-0000 x115

Winter 2015


OpenLink Workplace Mentoring Program This past fall, BBBSLI and OpenLink partnered to launch a site based workplace mentoring program that matches company employees with middle school students who are in need of a positive role model. Students are matched in one to one mentoring relationships with company employees who, through structured program activities, help map out the students' futures. The program focuses on career exploration and goal setting in a professional workplace environment.

“OpenLink is proud to partner with BBBSLI to bring this amazing program to one of our neighboring middle schools. The program reflects our commitment toward social responsibility and offers our employees an incredible opportunity to provide a positive influence to these students”, said Rich Grossi, OpenLink Executive Vice President, Global Operations and Support.

“We all went into this program hoping that we can touch the hearts and lives of these little ones, but I can truly say that the little ones have touched our hearts.” - OpenLink Big

Twice a month, Littles are bussed from their school to the OpenLink offices at RXR Plaza to meet with their Bigs. RXR building management has shown their support by providing a designated space for OpenLink employees to meet with their Littles. As with all site based programs, a BBBSLI team member is always in attendance to provide match support and supervision. Research has shown that workplace volunteer programs boost morale, increase productivity and foster unity through employee engagement. By participating in the BBBSLI workplace mentoring program, OpenLink employees are making an investment in the development of the next generation of leaders.

“We should all view this opportunity as a catalyst to unlock a child’s true potential and create a future for them where anything is possible.” - OpenLink Big

Winter 2015


New Board Members Spotlight Jamessina Hille, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for The Garden City Hotel graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. from Northeastern University and sits on the BBBSLI Scholarship Committee and the Women's Fund of Long Island Young Leadership Awards Committee. She resides in Merrick with her husband, Keith, and two children Richard and Summer. "I am proud to join a Board of distinguished, passionate individuals, each dedicated to BBBSLI's mission,” said Jamessina of her new position. Jamessina Hille

Liz Meyers, Vice President of Marketing and Purchasing for Darby Dental Supply, LLC is currently working towards her B.A. in History. Through Darby’s Social Responsibility programs, Liz works with several local and global organizations including Oral Health America and Physicians for Peace. She lives in Ronkonkoma with her mom Peggy and said, “I am honored to be a part of such a wonderful organization. I am looking forward to working with the Board and the staff of BBBSLI to raise money, increase awareness and support children in need of mentoring.” Liz Meyers

Kelly Stanley, a therapist at Steinway Child & Family Services, Inc., graduated from the University of Albany with a B.S. in Business Administration, Hofstra University with an MBA and Fordham University with a Master of Social Work. She is an LMSW, a member of the NASW and a Crisis Counselor at the Long Island Crisis Center. Kelly resides in Rockville Centre with her husband, Michael, and has two grown children, Ryan and Kara. “I am thrilled to be affiliated with an organization that does such important work with our youth,” said Kelly of her new Board of Directors position. Kelly Stanley

Winter 2015


Winter Blast 2015 BBBSLI Celebrates National Mentoring Month

On January 24th, in celebration of National Mentoring Month, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island (BBBSLI) hosted its annual Winter Blast match event and book fair at Dave & Busters in Farmingdale. This year’s event was attended by over 60 matches (Big and Little), who all enjoyed a fun-filled day of games, food and amazing raffles. The event also included a book fair, sponsored by Target, which allowed for every Little to leave with brand new books. Each match received a Dave & Busters unlimited power play card and 25 raffle tickets to use for the Chinese auction. Raffle prizes included a wide selection of items ranging from Nike sneakers, GUESS brand wristlets, board games, craft sets, acoustic guitars, gift certificates and several bicycles. Separate from the raffle prizes, a variety of backpacks, sports equipment (donated by Sports Authority), hats & scarves (donated by Care to Knit) and coats were available for all Littles to take home. BBBSLI coordinates match activities and events throughout the year as part of its on-going professional support of our programs mentoring relationships. The Winter Blast has become a highly anticipated event for both our Bigs and Littles. In addition to each match getting to enjoy a fun time together, events such as Winter Blast provide opportunities for all the Bigs and Littles to experience the support and joy of being part of the BBBSLI family. Providing group activities where our matches can come together, socialize and interact with the BBBSLI staff is very important as these events promote unity, belonging, and a sense of comradery with the agency as a whole. Feeling the excitement in the room and seeing the enjoyment on the faces of every Little and Big in attendance was the perfect way for BBBSLI to celebrate National Mentoring Month!

Winter 2015


Kicks for Kids’ Sake Big Brother's Big Sister's of Long Island, in concert with the 30 year-old Long Island based footwear retailer Renarts, hosted "Kicks for Kids Sake", benefiting 60 of the mentoring program's Little Brothers and Little Sisters by providing them with brand new sneakers. This was the third annual event, created by former BBBSLI Little Brother Chase Ceparano, who lost his father to AIDS at age 10 and was raised by his grandmother. Chase was matched with a Big Brother after an elementary school counselor connected him with the mentoring program. The sneakers for the event were obtained through the joint efforts of Ceparano along with Renarts owners, brothers Ankur and Nick Amin, who rallied support from their vendors. Additionally, Ankur’s daughter Aria Amin, age 11, raised over $1,000 for BBBSLI by making and selling loom bracelets. It really inspires the Littles of our mentoring program to see a BBBSLI Alumnus like Chase Ceparano reach back and create a great program such as this. "It's a profound and amazing experience to be able to team with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island and help out the Littles in the organization that made such a positive difference in my life”. - Chase Ceparano

Winter 2015


Nearly 200 Children and 80 Families Receive Gifts & Meals

HOLIDAY FOR KIDS’ SAKE On December 21st, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island (BBBSLI) brought joy directly to the doorsteps of children and families across Long Island through its annual Holiday for Kids’ Sake program which delivers holiday gifts and meals to those in need. Over 50 volunteer drivers gathered at Arrow Transfer and Storage in Hicksville to collect and deliver plenty of presents and 2 boxes of food to the doorsteps of nearly 200 children and 80 families.

“I thank you all, what a great surprise! My son loved all the gifts he received. You made my son so happy”. - Mother

The BBBSLI staff sorted through hundreds of brand new, unwrapped gift donations and gift cards generously donated by supporters of the agency, and hand-picked gifts for the children of those families served by the agency’s mentoring program. For the first time ever, 100% of the children and families enrolled in the Holiday for Kids’ Sake program were sponsored, which means every single one of them received items specifically requested on their holiday wish list. Thanks to the generous donations and support BBBSLI received from over 50 businesses, individuals and families, Holiday for Kids’ Sake was able to provide children with that something special that they otherwise would not have received. Having presents and a full meal with all the trimmings delivered to their door also helped to alleviate some of the stress on the families, making this a joyful and promising holiday season.

Winter 2015


New Staff Members Spotlight Amy Sledz-Sarin, Director of Marketing & Public Relations Brings 13 years of industry experience. Her background includes working for both non-profit organizations and corporations. Prior to joining BBBSLI, she was an Assistant Vice President in FTI Consulting's Corporate Communications practice where her clients included London & Capital, Deutshe Bank and HSBC. As an Account Supervisor at Ruder Finn Inc., she worked for Gerber Products Company, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and UCB Group where she oversaw the launch of several new product lines for Gerber's Nutrition and Care divisions. Her experience also includes the successful development and launch of national consumer education campaigns including, "Start Healthy, Stay Healthy" for Gerber and “Treat Eczema Now” for Novartis with Grammy Award winning artist LeAnn Rimes. Amy holds a BBA in Marketing from Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Amy Sledz-Sarin

Maxine Jean Louis, Case Manager Brings over 10 years of experience in case management and social services. Her background includes working with very diverse populations and she has helped people work towards self-sufficiency and independence. She has a depth of experience assisting families with medical, mental health and financial challenges that can often be overwhelming. At BBBSLI, Maxine’s goal is to help children become the best version of themselves.

Maxine Jean Louis Ashley Hinds, Case Manager Prior to joining BBBSLI as a Case Manager, Ashley worked as a social worker primarily based in school settings. She also previously worked at a mental health clinic for children. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Delaware State University. Ashley went on to earn a Master’s Degree in social work from Hunter College Silberman School of social work. At BBBSLI, Ashley hopes to serve more families on Long Island and most importantly to make a difference in the lives of children.

Ashley Hinds Nuria M. Martinez, Intake Specialist Prior to her position as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island’s Intake Specialist, Nuria’s professional experience includes work with other nonprofit organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Island Harvest. Nuria graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies. At BBBSLI, Nuria hopes to make a difference in the lives of boys and girls by providing them with mentors who will help guide them in their path to success.

Nuria Martinez Winter 2015


Events Re-Cap

Summer Sizzle Poker: 100 players, raising over $24,000

Hamptons Offshore Invitation Fishing Tournament: 61 boats, over 600 attendees at the awards dinner, raising nearly $230,000

Cruisin for Kids’ Sake: a dozen riders cruised 73 miles for kids’ sake to raise $10,000

16th Annual Presidential Gala: 380 guests, raising nearly $250,000

East End Poker & Blackjack Tournament: 50 players, raising almost $10,000

Battle of the Bands: over 150 guests came to rock out for mentoring, raising more than $10,000

NYC Marathon: Michael Mone, running on an injury exemption, raised more than $11,000 thinking of his supporters and the hundreds of kids we serve during every one of the more of the 25,000 strides he took in those 4 hours on that windy Sunday morning

All-In Poker: 157 players, raising $34,000 making it a record-breaking poker and networking event in both attendance and money raised

Winter 2015


CEO Mark Cox

Staff Director of Programs Tracey Burnett

Director of Finance Helen Liriano

Director of Development Jamison Skala

Spring cleaning time is right around the corner! Let us help you. Simply bag all your unwanted clothing and household items and schedule a pickup online at, call (631)234-0000 or visit one of our conveniently located bins by using our bin finder online!

Director of Marketing & PR Amy Sledz-Sarin

Director of Human Resources Carmelina Vassallo

Asst. Director of Programs Josephine Todisco

Community Outreach Coordinator Rachelle Ayala

Events Coordinator Deanna Tropeano

Case Managers Brian Cooper Ashley Hinds Sheniqua Lee Maxine Jean Louis

Intake Specialist Nuria Martinez

Newsletter Editor Amy Sledz-Sarin

Contact Us: Nassau 516.731.7880

Suffolk 631.273.1469

Thank you UTZ for being the official snack sponsor of our site based programs and events

Interested in Running the 2015 NYC Marathon?

Donation Center 631.234.0000



We currently have 5 charity spots available. For more information or to reserve your bib, please contact Deanna Tropeano at 516-731-7880 X214 or

BBBSLI Big News Winter 2015 Newsletter  
BBBSLI Big News Winter 2015 Newsletter