More than two decades ago, Erica Stowers got involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County. She says she remembers one particular day as if it were yesterday —that’s when she met Mollie.
“She was a small, fragile 11-year-old sitting at a table,” Erica says. It was 21 years ago when she was matched with her Little Sister.
Mollie is now 32 and living in Nashville, Erica is 47. “We still talk every day, sometimes four times a day,” Erica says.
With the pride of a big sister, the successful real estate professional (Erica is currently a Broker Associate with Douglas Elliman) says that Mollie “recently got her real estate license.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters: Erica sought out Big Brothers Big Sisters when she moved to South Florida 26 years ago and says it was born out of her own experiences growing up. “I came from a very dysfunctional childhood. My mom was married like 12 times, she was a drug addict; my dad got shot when I was 4.”
She said it was a deal that she made with God that will keep her forever dedicated to children’s charities. “I remember when I was younger, somewhere in a trailer park in Georgia, I got on my knees and prayed and I said, ‘If you please get me out of this . . . violent life, I will forever give back to children.'” (www.bbbsbroward.org)
In addition to her involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters, she is on the board of Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County. Erica is also involved with Pace Center for Girls and the Dan Marino Foundation.
Circle of Life: “It was probably the second-best day of my life,” says Erica, about her latest charity endeavor as a guardian with Honor Flight South Florida. (The best day, she says, was giving birth to her daughter, Lily, now 7). Erica trained as an Honor Flight guardian – traveling companions who are assigned to veterans who are awarded Honor Flights. Veterans and their volunteer guardians are flown to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at the memorials built in their honor. Erica made her first trip with Honor Flight South Florida on April 1, 2023.
“It was such an experience. You know, most of these guys who fought in Vietnam or wherever come back, and they are just shoved back… nothing, no recognition.”
The obligation to the guardianship was fulfilled after the one-day trip ended. But for Erica, the commitment wasn’t over. For the woman who raised four brothers in place of her absent mother, it was natural for her to “adopt” Duane, the veteran she was paired with for Honor Flight. “If he needs his clothes washed, I’ll tell him to drop them by, we meet for lunch,” she says, adding that from now on he’ll always be a part of her family.
Words to Live By: Gratitude is her guiding light. “I’ve been blessed. I say ‘thank you’ every single day. I don’t miss a day without a roof over my head and food in my belly. It’s the basic things and I am very grateful.”