Amherst man named top ‘Big’

MANCHESTER – Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire announced the Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year are Bob Purcell, of Amherst, and Sofia Cunha-Vascancelos, of Keene.

"This was the beginning of a journey that has lasted for years and promises to continue for many more," Purcell said. "As a Big Brother, I learned that those who enter into this pact truly can make a difference in the life of an individual. The big surprise for me was the fact that it changed me, as well.

"Brandon’s wonderful characteristics of compassion, sensitivity and kindness have become quite evident," Purcell said of his Little Brother. "Right before my eyes, I had the opportunity to see a mature young man evolve. My reward has been to have shared a small part of his life and possibly to have made a difference in how he interprets the world around him."

Mentors, or "Bigs," get together with their "Littles" for two to four hours two to four times a month. That time spent together has an impact.

"Spending time with Lily has easily had as much or more impact on me as a Big as I hope it has had on her," Cunha-Vascancelos said of her Little Sister. "First, the simple fact of having someone who expects you to be there when you say you will has been a reminder that we have obligations to the people around us, not just our mothers, fathers, children and co-workers. That is what community means.

"We both like to read, and Lily is an extremely creative person, and in spending time with her I’ve gotten the opportunity to go on voyages of imagination that I wouldn’t have made time for otherwise."

The benefits of having a mentor include increased confidence and academic success.

"I would tell someone who was considering becoming a Big that they should go for it," Cunha-Vascancelos said. "It’s an opportunity to make a new friend and see the world in a way that likely nothing else will show you."

"And imagine," Purcell said, "you may actually alter, in a wonderful way, the life of another human being – and your own along the way."

For more information on how you can become a Big, visit, email or call 1-844-644-2447.

Submitted by Big Brothers
Big Sisters of New Hampshire