Irvine's Jen Necir has been named Big Sister of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County.
Necir was recognized for her "unwavering dedication to making a positive, long-lasting impact," according to a press release sent out by the organization.
"I was very surprised," said Necir, 33, explaining that her story is different from other Bigs of Year, who have seen their "littles" do something notable.
"I don't know, we're just very simple people," Necir said of herself and her "little," Abbie. "We just like hanging out with each other."
Through the volunteer mentorship program at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County, "bigs" like Necir are matched with youths facing adversity for a one-on-one relationship meant to improve their lives.
Necir has been mentoring 11-year-old Abbie for more than two years and said she wants Abbie to be her little sister forever, even after the program is over.
While Necir does have a busy schedule, "you can't be too busy to make a difference in a young girl's life," she said.
She hopes her time and influence has made a difference for Abbie, who lost her father at a young age.
"I grew up poor, my dad died early; it's like [Abbie's] story," Necir said. "I finished school. It was hard. I had to study so hard to get academic scholarships. Without those I wouldn't have been able to finish school, but I did it."
Necir said she joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County because she wanted to pay it forward.
"I want [Abbie] to know that wherever she came from, whatever hardships she has in her family, she can come out of it," Necir said. "I've been there."
In a press release, Abbie said Necir taught her how to deal with hardship.
"She has taught me to think of the good things in my life. She always knows what to say to make me feel better," she said.