Amanda Weston & Solomon Kauinui
Amanda Weston and Solomon Kauinui (far left and right above, pictured with Littles) deserve a big round of applause for their volunteer work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu. Which is why they are this year’s respective Big Sister and Big Brother of the Year, an honor bestowed on an exceptional Big who demonstrates commitment and dedication to the children of Hawaii by being outstanding mentors.
“I was shocked, happy and thrilled all at the same time,” says Kauinui, who was surprised by Little Brother Cody Abe, along with wife Michele and daughter Eva, at his workplace in a special ceremony last month - the first time the organization has done so in its decades-old history.
“We wanted to truly show our appreciation and honor our Bigs of the Year in the presence of people who mean the most to them - their family, friends, colleagues and, of course, their Little,” said BBBSH CEO/president Dennis Brown.
“It was a complete surprise but it was such an honor,” adds Weston, whose Little Sister Jasmine Fujisaki and husband James Halvorson joined the trial attorney at her office for the presentation.
Weston first met Fujisaki eight years ago, when the then 10-year-old was in the midst of her parents’separation and other personal issues. Now 18 and ready to exit the program, Fujisaki is a confident young woman who counts Weston as one of her best friends.
“Amanda’s awesome. I tell my friends all the time, you should get a Big Brother/Sister,” says Fujisaki.
Kaiunui was matched with his Little in 2003, when Abe was just 8 years old. Prior to their match, Abe had been struggling in school and has since been diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder and attention deficit disorder. But through the constant support of his Big, he has channeled his energy into soccer and the Interact club.
“It’s been rewarding over the years seeing him grow,” says Kaiunui, an engineer with Hawaiian Telcom as well as a Realtor for Dower Realty Inc.
“Solomon is a great brother to me and a great role model. If I have a problem,” adds Abe, a sophomore at Kaimuki High. “I can talk to Solomon and he gives me advice. I may not always do what he suggests, but I do listen.”
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