Each year we choose one extraordinary match to represent our local agency as our official Match of the Year. We celebrate their friendship throughout the year and the shining example they set for the rest of our matches.

“It’s hard to pick just one thing that makes my Big Sister Jeanne so special. She is great in every way, but if I had to pick something I would say it is her contagious personality. She is so care-free and positive. It’s hard not to be the same when I am with her. She makes everything seem worth trying because it could be fun. I have learned so much from Jeanne, but probably the greatest things she’s taught me is to never give up and follow my dreams. I can get far in life by doing my best, trying my hardest and keep moving forward even when something doesn’t go my way.” - Little Sister Emily

Big Sister Jeanne Edwards of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey and her Little Sister Emily were matched in March of 2016. Emily was just shy of her 12th birthday and was living with her Mom, siblings, and grandparents. Dad had not been in Emily’s life for quite a few years. Emily’s mom describes his departure from the family as traumatic and as she saw her daughter struggle with confidence issues she felt that Emily could benefit from having a Big Sister; someone else she could confide in and have fun with. Emily describes herself as being shy and soft spoken when she and Jeanne first met. She admits that she didn’t have many friends, interests or goals for her life. Jeanne was not swayed by this and thought she could be a positive person to lift Emily up.

The match bonded pretty quickly over their love of Unicorns. Within no time at all it seemed Big Sister’s adventurous spirit had worn off on Little Sister and their bond grew stronger as they went on many adventures together. They’ve zip-lined the Cape May County Zoo, flown in a tiny Cessna airplane, and saw Emily’s first concert and professional baseball game together. What’s best is that they enjoy their simple outings just as much – feeding Jeanne’s chickens, working on their scrapbook or catching up over a slice of pizza.

While there have been a lot of fun memories to add to their scrapbook pages the match has also overcome some tough times. Emily’s world turned upside down in 2018 when her mother was incarcerated for 6 months. Jeanne took on a supportive role through this time and was a helpful distraction and a shoulder to lean on. It was during this time that Jeanne and Emily’s relationship grew and flourished. Emily came out of her shell, found her voice and her zest for life. She won several awards in school that year, joined the medical explorers program at the local hospital, and applied for enrollment at a high school that offers specialized coursework in the medical field. She has friends, and is involved in extracurricular activities. She’s even discovered her talent for drawing. Emily is the first to give credit to Jeanne for showing her how fun it can be to try new things.

“The feeling you have when you see your Little grow, change, overcome obstacles and reach their goals cannot be matched. I am so proud of the person Emily has become and am excited for all the potential she has in her life. Emily and I are in this together. I will always have her back. I am her defender of endless potential.” - Big Sister Jeanne Edwards.

In 2019, Big Sister Jeanne and Little Sister Emily were named Match of the Year for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Atlantic & Cape May Counties, Match of the Year for Big Brothers Big Sisters State Association of New Jersey, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America! Watch the video below to learn more about their friendship.