Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana recently hosted its annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner to honor the recipients of the agency’s 2012 Volunteers of the Year awards. This year’s Big Sister of the Year hails from Kosciusko County.
Volunteer nominees were chosen from a variety of counties based on the impact they’ve made in a young child’s life. A third party panel, consisting of individuals not involved in volunteering for the agency, was selected to grade each match based on the same criteria.
In total, four mentors from Kosciusko County were nominated for awards, and Sherri Milton was recognized as the local Northeast Indiana Big Sister of the Year. Other local nominees were Michael Aleman for Big Brother of the Year, Stephanie Wainscott for Big Sister of the Year and Trina Hoy for School Buddy of the Year. All nominees showed great dedication to providing their “Littles” with a positive perspective on what they can be as they advance their lives.
Matched since 2004, Milton and “Little” Sister Sarah started in Kosciusko County where they both lived. This special match has endured a lot. “Little” Sister Sarah moved an hour and half hour away to Adams County, yet Sherri remains constant and committed as they continue to meet – sometimes for a weekend getaway and sometimes just for a quick slice of pizza. They are adventurous, taking on challenges such as Yellow Stone National Park, white water rafting and horseback riding. But most importantly, Sarah sums it up best when she says, “I am thankful for Sherri, she makes me feel like a part of her family!”
The award presented to Milton also opens up opportunities for state and national recognition next year.
Approximately 425 guests attended the dinner and ceremony in Fort Wayne Hotel to join in the celebration and honor volunteerism throughout Northeast Indiana and Southern Michigan. “This event is our way to not only recognize individual volunteers, but a way to say thank you to all of our volunteers that dedicate a few hours every month to mentoring,” said Josette Rider, chief executive officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“Children are accomplishing dreams and doing things they never would have without a mentor,” she added. “None of that could happen without our volunteers. They are walking proof that just a little bit of time goes a long way in putting our youth on the path to success. We thank them for that. But the search is not over. More than 80 ‘Littles’ are still looking for a mentor in Kosciusko County. Of those, 70 percent are boys. The need for mentoring has never been higher, but the flexibility of our programs has never been better either.”
As an agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana recognized 31 outstanding nominees and then presented awards to winners in five categories. The winners and nominees (county acknowledged in parenthesis) were:
- National Big Sister of the Year: Alyssa Ivanson (Allen)
- Big Sister of the Year: Sherri Milton (Kosciusko)
Nominees: Laura Frederick (Steuben), Machelle Fordham (Allen), Vicki Swanson (Allen), Rae Davis (Allen), Stephanie Wainscott (Kosciusko)
- Big Brother of the Year: Trevor Loxton (Allen)
Nominees: Bradley Foster (Allen), Michael Aleman (Kosciusko), Ronald Newcomer (Noble), Brad Stiles (Allen), Adam Blakey (Allen)
- Big Couple of the Year: Scott and Michelle Rodenbeck (Allen)
Nominees: Eric and Lauren Harmison (Allen), Eric and Cheryl Stadtfeld (Noble), Julie Townsend and Francisco Tapia (Allen), Eric and Jenny Simerman (Allen)
- School Buddy of the Year: Jason Fritcha (Allen)
Nominees: Trina Hoy (Kosciusko), Roger Young (Adams), Betty Oakes (Wells), Ben Harrison (DeKalb), Doug Schenkel (Allen)
- First Mentor of the Year: Chase Moyle (Allen)
Nominees: Malik Ojuri (Allen) and Caleb Norris (Allen)
- 40-Year Service Celebration: Buford Baker (Whitley).
As part of a special celebration, Buford Baker was recognized for being a Big Brother for more than 40 years. In that time, he has won local Big Brother of the Year and School Buddy of the Year and continued mentoring multiple children throughout the years.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana is a nonprofit organization that serves children in Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells and Whitley counties in Indiana and Branch, Hillsdale and St. Joseph counties in Michigan. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships with measureable impact.