About Us: 2020 NJ Big Sister of the Year
- Karen Bottari

Big and Little Sis
“What makes my Big Sister important is the way she treats me and the way she shows me that she loves me. I also love hanging out with her because every time we hang out, we have fun. I trust her, she is honest, and she is there for everything no matter what… This is the best program you can ever be in, because if it wasn`t for my mom signing me up for this program, I would of never changed like I am now…My Big Sister thought me a lot, and I’m thankful for her.” – Little Sister Ty’Quayshia

Big Sister Karen and Little Sister Ty’Quayshia are one of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Coastal & Northern New Jersey’s longest lasting match relationships. They met 11 years ago when Ty was just 7-years-old! Ty’s outspoken personality has met her match in Karen who is Ty’s tireless defender and advocate in many facets of her life. Needless to say, Ty and Karen now consider themselves “real” sisters. Although they aren’t getting together quite as much as they were when Ty was younger, they are in nearly daily contact via texts. Ty knows she can count on Karen to support and listen to her. Ty turned 18 on December 27 and is set to graduate from high school in June. She plans to attend the cosmetology vocational program. Guess who has a nearly 20-year career in cosmetology? We couldn’t be happier to have created such an enduring, outstanding and powerful friendship!

Big and Little Sis
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 last year 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 ou31t 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.

“It’s been such a joy to see Ty grow into a young woman. She has taught me to be flexible and willing to do things I may not feel like doing sometimes. That is how we have come so far… I am looking forward to watching her grow into a young woman and see what happens next. I am in it for the long haul. We will be FOREVER FRIENDS! I hope our story encourages others to make a difference in one life. I am so glad I did!”
– Big Sister Karen Bottari