Earlier this month, Little Sister Ismara, received the $20,000 KELLY Award given by the Kelly Family Foundation through Mass Mentoring Partnership. With the help of Big Sister Boston staff, including the Coordinator of Our Big Futures, Wanda Rodriguez, Little Sisters submit an application and essay for this award. Since the award was established 14 years ago, Big Sister is proud to have had several Little Sisters receive the KELLY Award.
The KELLY Award is given to an outstanding young person who has overcome tremendous adversity through a combination of their own determination and caring, mentoring adults. For the past year, Ismara attended school virtually due to the pandemic. She shared a learning space with her sister and was unable to get help from her mother who speaks primarily Spanish and works multiple jobs to support her family. Ismara began the year with a D in English. Through perseverance and the support of her caring, committed Big Sister Marci, with whom she’s been matched for more than two years, Ismara ended the year with an A+.
“In my family, promises are a big deal,” said Ismara. “My mom came to Boston from Puerto Rico because she made a promise. She promised her mom that when she had kids she would do whatever it took to give them the best life she could. It has not always been easy for us here…but she does whatever it takes…she made a promise to us.” With this award Ismara said: “I will get myself an education, I will pay it forward, and someday I will achieve great things. This is a promise.”
Ismara plans to use some of the award to take prep classes to aid her in getting into an exam school and purchase a laptop and other schools supplies she will need when she is accepted.
And, speaking of promises, when Ismara was filming her award acceptance segment at Fenway Park for MMP’s Champions of Mentoring event, a Fenway staffer found out her family was from Puerto Rico. He immediately gave her Red Sox hats with the Puerto Rican flag on them for her whole family and promised to get tickets for them to attend a Red Sox game—which Ismara has never done!