Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cape Cod & the Islands announced Malee “Noi” Prete, a resident of Bourne, as the organization’s Big Sister of the Year for her partnership with Betsy, a resident of Mashpee.
Each year, the organization selects one Big Brother and one Big Sister to receive the Big of the Year award. To be eligible for the award, the Big needs to display great influence on his or her Little throughout the duration of the match. As for the male recipient, Manny Marrero of West Yarmouth received the Big Brother of the Year award for his match with Ronnie, also of West Yarmouth.
“I was really honored to be thought of in that way and to be noticed and recognized. All my life I’ve kind of just flown under the radar, and so does Betsy. We just do what we do, not to get awards,” Ms. Prete said. “I always say it’s our award. I wouldn’t be a Big Sister without Betsy.”
Ms. Prete and Betsy matched nearly nine years ago when Betsy was just 9 years old. Now, Betsy is 18 and looking to graduate high school and make her college decision.
“Seeing her grow into who she is as a young woman has been amazing to watch,” Ms. Prete said.
Despite changing schedules throughout the years, Ms. Prete and Betsy have kept their match going all this time, and clearly it is a successful one. So how have they made it work for so long?
“I think we are a good fit because we try,” Ms. Prete said. “We make an effort to see each other every couple of weeks. I make an effort to listen to her and to try and be there and try to be helpful and there’s no judgment on anything. That has been a huge piece of it.”
Ms. Prete, a licensed social worker, was never a Big Sister before her match with Betsy. In her spare time, she volunteered for the American Red Cross but always felt she could be doing more to help others.
“A helper is who I am; it’s just ingrained in me,” Ms. Prete said.
Ms. Prete said she and Betsy have many similarities and enjoy many of the same passions which include music, outdoors, trying new things, food and new restaurants.
She said one of her favorite memories of their time together occurred when Betsy was about 12 years old and she took Betsy and Betsy’s biological sister to a concert.
In addition to years of memories together, Ms. Prete said the partnership has been extremely beneficial and helped both of them to develop as people.
“Betsy has been a really good influence on me in terms of learning to slow down. Sometimes as an adult we get in this routine where we are moving, moving, moving and we don’t stop to slow down and think and have fun. Betsy helps me do that,” she said. “I think it’s been helpful for her to have me as someone in her corner. I will never judge her. I will always give advice, whether she wants to hear it or not. She knows I will always be there.”
The organization will formally honor both Mr. Marrero and Ms. Prete on June 7 at its 21st Annual Golf For Kids Tournament at the Cummaquid Golf Club.
“To know that they think our match is solid enough and good enough that we deserve that honor, it’s impressive. I was very very honored,” Ms. Prete said.