Lifestyle

Island County’s ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ celebrated

Joe Napier, shown with his “Little Brother” Robert, was named Community Connections Volunteer of the Year.  Carrie Riepma presented the award.  - Courtesy photo
Joe Napier, shown with his “Little Brother” Robert, was named Community Connections Volunteer of the Year. Carrie Riepma presented the award.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County go above and beyond to brighten the lives of their “Littles” and the mentoring agency celebrated these individuals Oct. 8 in Coupeville along with parents, Littles and the mentors. Big Brothers Big Sisters also named its Bigs of the Year.

“All of our volunteers are wonderful, but these are the individuals that went the extra mile,” said Peggy Dyer, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

For North Whidbey, Cathy Lange was named Big Sister of the Year. Lange has been matched with her Little Sister Mariah for eight months. Mariah’s parent described Lange as “exactly what she needed! Those two have become very close and have shared a lot of experiences together.” They frequently join in on the match activities and the agency can always count on them to help represent Big Brothers Big Sisters in local parades.

“Lange provides Mariah with a consistent companion who is stable in her life,” said North Whidbey match coordinator Carrie Riepma. “Cathy is a very patient, caring, and reliable volunteer; we are so thankful to have her in the BBBS family,” she said.

Joe Napier was named Community Connections’ Volunteer of the Year. Napier has been matched with his Little Brother Robert for just two months however Roberts’s mother described the two as “the perfect match.” Napier enjoys keeping busy outdoors and watching sports. Napier has been dedicated to his match from the start, making sure Robert and he got to do “boy” type things. The day Robert was matched he proclaimed, “This is the best day of my life!” Riepma recalled. Napier has also been a great liaison between the agency and Naval Air Station Whidbey. He has posted and passed out flyers, which has already brought new volunteers to the agency. He also is promoting BBBS through the military Combined Federal Campaign – commonly referred to as the CFC. The BBBS CFC number is 58567, and Napier recently planted a sign he designed in the front yard of the Oak Harbor BBBS office reflecting that number. “We are so happy to have Joe involved with our agency,” Riepma said.

This year’s Scholarship Award, donated by Elaine and Mac McDowell, went to Paul Derting who was a Little in the program since he was 8 years old and has been a Big to two little boys. Paul graduated from Oak Harbor High School last year and is now studying at Skagit Valley College. Derting was chosen due to his long involvement with the agency and his work as a mentor. He came into the program as a Little Brother. He was matched with Big Brother, Ron, from the age of 11 until he graduated from High School at 18. As a consequence of having a mentor over the years, Derting learned the value of having a good friend and role model and chose to become one himself.

For the Central Whidbey program, three school-based matches were recognized. The mentoring agency has had a school-based program in the Coupeville School District for a little over a year.

Andre Stone is a senior at Coupeville High School who has been a dedicated volunteer to the Central Whidbey School Based Program at Coupeville Middle School. His friendship with middle school student, Lathom, has flourished in many positive ways.

Also named a Big of the Year was Tauni Moody, a senior at Coupeville High School. She is matched with middle school student, Charla. Moody has been an exceptional volunteer for the school-based program at Coupeville Middle School and is known for making a positive difference in Charla’s life. David Lile was another Big of the Year. “Intelligent, patient, caring, positive role model and good moral character,” are all words that come to mind when describing the nature of Lile, Johnson said. Since being matched with Little Brother Jason in 2009, Lile has been known to go above and beyond in helping motivate his Little and making sure that he academically succeeds at school,

The agency is always looking for more volunteers. Generally about 70 percent of kids waiting for a Big are male, but only three out of every 10 volunteer inquiries come from men. On average, a boy will end up waiting more than 33 percent longer for a Big than a girl, according to BBBS data. While active, dynamic Big Brothers are an acute need, female volunteers are also always wanted, Riepma said.

For more information, call 279-0644 or email bbbs@whidbey.net.

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