Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana recently hosted its annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner to honor the recipients of the agency’s 2013 Volunteers of the Year awards. Approximately 425 guests attended the dinner and ceremony at 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 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. 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.”
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, five mentors from Kosciusko County were nominated for awards, and Mike Bodiker was recognized as the local Northeast Indiana Big Brother of the Year. In addition to Mike, Michael Aleman was nominated for Big Brother of the Year, Stephanie Wainscott was nominated for Big Sister of the Year, and Trina Hoy and Barry Wampler were nominated for School Buddy of the Year for the local agency. All nominees showed great dedication to providing their “littles” with a positive perspective on what they can be as they advance their lives. Here is a brief peak into Mike Bodiker’s story:
Big Brother of the Year: Mike Bodiker
Because of all the changes in Jeremy’s family, Big Brother Mike has been the only consistent adult in Jeremy’s life since they were first matched. Mike continually looks for ways to challenge Jeremy to perform well academically and encourages him to talk about what is going on at home rather than internalizing the struggles he faces. Over the past nine years a lot of change has occurred, Jeremy tells BBBS, “I just like how Mike is there for me and he is interested in what I am doing in life. I just really enjoy spending time with him.” For Mike, he has seen that “Jeremy has matured so much and I’ve gotten to watch him start taking responsibility and have dreams for the future.” After about five years of being matched with Mike, Jeremy went through a really rough time in his life when his mother passed away, and Mike was with him through every step of the way. His adoptive mother Beth said, “It’s just really great that Mike has been with Jeremy so long.” Jeremy has lived more of his life with Mike being a part of it than the other way around!”
To learn more about Mike, Michael, Stephanie, Barry or Trina’s story and set up an interview, please contact Trina Hoy at 574-551-6386 or [email protected].
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:
- Big Sister of the Year for the State of Indiana: Sherri Milton, Kosciusko County
- Big Brother of the Year – State of Indiana: Mike Ripley, Allen County
- Big Sister of the Year: Machelle Fordham, Allen County
- Nominees: Laura Frederick, Steuben County; Rhonda Meriwether, Allen County; Vicki Swanson, Allen County; Stephanie Wainscott, Kosciusko County
- Big Brother of the Year: Mike Bodiker, Kosciusko County
- Nominees: Michael Aleman, Kosciusko County; Ronald Newcomer, Noble County; Tahl Glass, Huntington County; Adam Blakey, Allen County
- Big Couple of the Year: John and Cindy Russell, Whitley County
- Nominees: Eric and Lauren Harmison, Allen County; Eric and Cheryl Stadtfeld, Noble County; Julie Townsend and Francisco Tapia, Allen County; Eric and Jenny Simerman, Allen County
- School Buddy of the Year: Barb Logan, LaGrange County
- Nominees: Trina Hoy, Kosciusko County; James Ganaway, Allen County; David Worman, Noble County; Barry Wampler, Kosciusko County
- First Mentor of the Year: Eli Rider, Allen County
- Nominees: Nathan Grabner, Allen County; Gabriel Fengolio
- 10-Year Service Celebration: Lora Acker, Allen County
As part of a special celebration, Lora Acker was recognized for being a big sister for more than 10 years. In that time, she has been a big sister to two littles.