Big Brothers Big Sisters honoured
Steering young people down the right path could make the difference between gang membership or a university degree, a government minister said yesterday.
Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, said organisations like Big Brothers Big Sisters could make all the difference to a child’s prospects.
Ms Foggo said: “Just a few hours a week can completely transform a child’s life and help them to realise their full potential.”
She was speaking at the BBBS Thank Your Mentor ceremony at City Hall in Hamilton yesterday, when the top Big Brother and Big Sister were honoured.
She told the gathering: “Your decision to become a mentor could be the difference between whether or not that young person gets involved in a gang, tries drugs, gets good grades and, by extension, ends up in a tertiary institution following their career goals.
“We all in this community have something to give — a skill, a hobby, something that we can pass on or just simply being a listening ear, it all makes a difference.
Ms Foggo added: “You may be the person to help someone out of their shell, to fuel their confidence, to ignite their passion for something that they didn’t even know they were good at or interested in.”
Dan Samilski and Nicole Walker received awards for Big Brother of the Year and Big Sister of the Year.
The Littles of Mr Samilski and Ms Walker read out letters of gratitude they had written to their mentors. A’niaz Outerbridge, 12, said his Big Brother Mr Samilski was one of his best friends.
He added: “Back in 2014 when my mother signed me up for the Big Brothers Big Sisters programme, I didn’t know that I would be meeting a friend for life.”
He told Mr Samilski: “From the day I met you, I knew that this friendship would be a lifelong friendship and that we would have lots of fun.
“We do all sorts of fun activities together like fishing, flying kites and playing football. Dan, you are very supportive of me, you are always encouraging me and I always appreciate that.”
Shabrique Henderson, 17, told Ms Walker: “Thank you so very much for every moment you have spent with me.
“It has made me a better person just to have an older sister to support me and have fun with.
“Nicole, you have been one of the most significant persons in my life and I will always be thankful for that. I will always cherish the memories we have made together.
“Whenever I inform you that I have an event like an honour roll, you always attend and support me. There is never a dull moment with you.”
Sponsors, donors and volunteers at BBBS were also honoured at the ceremony.
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