Finalists for Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year make us Proud to be from Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — In just days, we could find out if two role models in our area are chosen for a huge national award.

They’ve already got some really big recognition across the state as they have been chosen as Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year for Pennsylvania.

Big Malissa Seman and her Little Calie Gallagher make memories whenever they’re together — whether it’s just grabbing ice cream in Oakland or going to Calie’s first concert together.

“It means everything to me because I only had my brother growing up. And having Miss Malissa there — it’s just easier,” said Calie.

Seman and Calie have been together as Big and Little since 2016. Calie was only 10 at the time.

“It just so happened that we also have a lot in common,” said Seman. “Our families have kind of the same values and beliefs, and her mom felt comfortable with me.”

And over the last five years, Seman has become a sister to Calie.

“I jump at every opportunity to see Miss Malissa,” said Calie.

When asked what she thinks of Calie, Seman said,

“How much time do you have? I think Calie is awesome! She’s probably one of the kindest kids that I’ve met.”

Seman was recognized as Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Big Sister of the Year for the entire state of Pennsylvania.

“Which is such an honor,” said Seman. “I love this organization. I’m so glad I get to be engaged with it — beyond my career there.”

When they found out Seman had won, both Big and Little had emotional reactions. “Then she started crying, and I started crying, and we were just crying together because it meant so much to us,” said Calie.

Zandra McDonald with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh is so pleased with the honor that Seman received.

“People don’t realize how simple things like just hanging out, doing something that you would do anyways — how much of an impact it can have on a child,” said McDonald.

Not only was Seman named Big Sister of the Year for Pennsylvania, but the Big Brother of the Year honor also was awarded to a Big from the Greater Pittsburgh chapter: Mark Bezilla.

“We’re all a part of this village that is helping to raise kids, positively influence kids, and also just provide opportunity,” said Seman.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization will announce its national Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year on July 1.