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Big Brothers/Big Sisters names

"Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Island County needs helpTo volunteer as a Big Brother or Sister, contact Peggy Stanford, executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Island County, at 279-0644.Will Chiaffino and Deb Payne were named the first Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year for Island County, at a Volunteer Recognition awards ceremony Tuesday night at the Oak Harbor Elks Club, presented by Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Island County.Kathy Jones, Big Brothers/Big Sisters board member and a big sister herself, received a surprise award as Volunteer of the Year.This is the first award program of this type in Island County, said Peggy Stanford, executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Island County.We've gotten to the point that we have a lot of community support, and it's time for recognition, Stanford said.Chiaffino and Payne were recognized for their involvement in the lives of two young people, their Littles, as they are fondly called. Chiaffino, a U.S. Navy air traffic controller, has been big brother to 8-year-old Destin for almost a year. Payne, a teacher at North Whidbey Middle School, has been big sister to 13-year-old Josse for more than a year. Both children come from homes where they are being raised by grandparents.It was a hard decision to choose the 'Bigs' of the year, Stanford said, praising all the volunteers who have committed at least a year of their time to a child. Each Big spends two to three hours at a time with their Little, three or four times per month.Chiaffino and Payne were chosen for their exceptional involvement in the lives of Destin and Josse, their consistency and their dedication.Chiaffino said he was raised by a single mom, who always managed to find positive role models for her son. Now, Chiaffino said, he is happy to do the same for Destin.I am here for him, Chiaffino said.Payne expressed similar sentiments about her Little Sister.It's a fantastic program. Josse is a really big part of my life, Payne said. We are buddies. If I were 13, she'd be someone I'd hang out with.Jones was a founding member of the local chapter, serves on the board, volunteers as a Big Sister, and provides her professional accounting services to the organization.Jones received the Volunteer of the Year award in recognition of doing so much for the organization, Stanford said.There are more than 60 children in Oak Harbor on a waiting list to receive a match-up with a big brother or sister.I wish we could have more volunteers, said Sig Harbak, a 69-year-old retiree who is Big Brother to an 11-year-old boy. I didn't have anyone when I was growing up, Harbak said. I want to give something back to these guys.Volunteers first submit an application, and the organization completes a background check. After personal interviews with the executive director, a Big is matched with a Little, and the training process is completed before the Big and Little meet. The training includes communication skills and relationship issues, to aid the Bigs in understanding and interacting with the Littles.Who makes a good Big is someone who understands the value of what they are doing, Stanford said. Anyone over 19 years old is eligible to apply.You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611 "

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