At the event, as everyone gathered over the delightful thin-crust pizza, craft beer, salad and wings served up by the Anchor, BBBSWNC Director Robin Myer shared some of our recent successes: including enrolling 108 mentors over the course of our 100 Mentors in 100 Days campaign—and the unlikely place we find ourselves in of actually needing to enroll Littles now to keep up with these motivated volunteers!
#ThankYourMentor Day, a day designated officially by National Mentoring Month, is at it’s core all about expressing gratitude to the men and women who are truly the ones Starting Something Big in our community each and revery day: the Bigs. Appropriately, in conjunction with thanking ALL of our amazing and committed volunteers, BBBS was excited to announce our 2018 Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year nominees and winners!
In Western North Carolina, we are fortunate to have so many amazing Big Brothers and Big Sisters who not only help their Littles to grow and reach their potential in so many ways, but also advocate for BBBS in the community, volunteer at our events, participate in our fundraisers and so much more. The nominees for Big of the Year are the Bigs who are going above and beyond the call of duty in serving their Littles and serving the organization as a whole.
The Big Sister of the Year nominees for 2018 were: Carroll Toole of Henderson County, Dana Schiffman of Buncombe County and Alissa Short of Cashiers.
The nominees for 2018 Big Brother of the year were: John McClung of Buncombe County, Mark Grush of Henderson County, Peter Ray of Cashiers and Mike Ramsey of Haywood County.
And the winners are… Dana Schiffman and Mark Grush!
Schiffman, who serves on the regional Board of Directors, has been matched with her Little, Jasmine, since September of 2014. She has seen her Little go from the beginning of middle school to now her first year in high school. Over these three and a half years, Dana has attended Jasmine’s band concerts, track meets and has helped Jasmine excel in school and extra-curricular pursuits.
Last night, Dana offered some inspiring reflections on the relationships, and described a recent experience witnessing Jasmine discover one of her true passions—and a potential career path—during one of their match activities:
“So we were in the kitchen baking and talking and we were talking about her career and what she wants to do in the future. And…for the longest time, she wanted to be a lawyer. But as she’s grown up, she’s figured out more and more what that would actually look like and has been losing interest in it. And then, all of a sudden she stops mixing and looks at me and says: ‘I want to do culinary stuff!’ and I was so excited for her, because it’s a perfect fit, and we talked about being a chef or owning a restaurant or doing pastries. And I told her about AB Tech and how they have an award-winning program, and I told her about the Culinary Institute of America. And as we were talking about this stuff, you could see this light go on in her and it was just amazing to see… So, I’m glad that she’s my Little. I love her so much, and it is so fun to watch her learn and grow and it is such a special feeling that I could not imagine having it in my life.
“So thank you to all of the Bigs out here for doing what you do and loving these kids. And even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like you are making a difference, you are.”
Big Brother of the Year, Mark Grush’s match started off in Henderson County’s School-Based Program in 2010 and transitioned into the Community-Based Program in 2014. During the first four years, Mark’s Little Brother Estuardo improved in his organizational skills and academic performance while in the School-Based Program, and since the two began in the Community-Based Program, their relationship has grown event stronger. Together, they enjoy a variety of activities including going to the movies and working out at the gym. Mark is a very involved Big Brother and a welcome help to the family. He is invested in Estuardo’s future and supporting him to make wise choices and work hard on his education
In addition to his exceptional contribution as a mentor, Mark serves as secretary of BBBS Henderson County’s Advisory Council.
At the event, Grush shared some words of gratitude for his own experience and for the time that all of the other Bigs committ to their Littles:
“I’ve been a Big Brother for nine years now and my Little and I have been together for about eight: from elementary school to middle school and now high-school. There have been a lot of changes and challenges along the way and a lot of things that I’ve learned: different approaches and challenges kids can face in life growing up.”
“I really appreciate getting recognize for this because I know the impact it’s made in my life and the impact it’s made in my Little Brother Estuardo’s life, and just what a fantastic program it is. And I’m just really thankful to all of you guys for what you’re doing. It’s really nice to see so many Bigs together at one time.”
From here, the two WNC nominees will be submitted to the North Carolina state selection, the winners of which will be selected in late February and will go on to BBBS of America.
Check out some of the photos from the #ThankYourMentor event below: