Gonzalo Fernandez with his Little Brother Simon
“It was a priority for me to give back and help the younger generation make the most of what all this country has to offer.”
Nine year-old Simon has lived in uncertain, sometimes turbulent, circumstances, during his young life. Today, Simon’s home life is steady and calm, thanks to the hard work and tenacity of his mother, who overcame the sometimes daunting challenges of single parenthood and overwhelming difficulties of life. Simon also has found a male role model, mentor and friend in Gonzalo Fernandez, his Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Gonzalo moved to the U.S. from Argentina when he was 21. Now 39, he owns and operates Chamonix Yacht Management, a successful yacht maintenance business in Miami Beach soon to expand into Fort Lauderdale.
“America is one of the few countries in our world today where you can start with nothing and work hard to have everything you need. It is not like that everywhere,” Gonzalo said. “Now that I’ve found success, it was a priority for me to give back and help the younger generation make the most of what all this country has to offer.”
Gonzalo was matched with Simon this past fall. They quickly forged an ironclad bond and strong friendship. Gonzalo plans outings with Simon just for fun – events like Marvel Universe Live and Disney on Ice – and also provides experiences to open Simon’s eyes to future opportunities. He recently took Simon to his place of business, where he was pleased to see his Little Brother show great interest and inquisitiveness. Simon loves to be with Gonzalo.
“There’s so much about him I like it’s hard to describe,” Simon said. “He’s very nice and we always have fun together.”
Anne Lorenz, VP of Programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward, said Simon and Gonzalo illustrate an ideal match relationship.
“This match really is the essence of our program,” she said. “Simon needed a consistent male role model, and Gonzalo fills that space in his life by showing up when he says he will. They go to car shows, BBBS events, run errands together or grab food together. The activities are simple, but the time spent is full of quality.”