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Big deal: ‘littles’ salute mentors

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Bermuda's mentors were saluted for all their hard work at a special ceremony yesterday.

The Thank You Mentor event, put on by charity Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda, celebrated all those who dedicate their time to making a difference with the island's youth.

But it also highlighted the need for more mentors.

Patrina O'Connor-Paynter, BBBS managing director, said: “Big Brothers Big Sisters is committed to making a difference in the lives of youth in our community.

“We realise that no one succeeds on their own. Each young person's strength and resilience is fostered by those who have taught them.”

She acknowledged other mentoring organisations such as YouthNet and the Mirrors programme and encouraged people to get involved with BBBS's programmes.

Ms O'Connor-Paynter said: “We realise it takes a village of people that have different talents, ideas and strengths to join together to help us to fulfil our mission.”

Othneal Haynes, BBBS president, added: “We at Big Brothers Big Sisters are providing that avenue for the village of Bermuda to assist in raising our at-risk children.

Mr Haynes said about 70 littles were waiting to be matched — and about 50 of these are boys.

He added: “Most of our children come from challenging homes, single-parent homes, et cetera and it's very important that we provide stability to these children.”

Lovitta Foggo, acting minister of social development and sports, said she had seen the impact organisations such as BBBS had on the lives of children through her work as a teacher.

She added that BBBS provided children with “skills for success” that they carried with them for the rest of their lives.

Ms Foggo said: “Thank you to all those mentors who are out there and who give willingly of themselves in so many ways.”

Eddy Burchall, 11, spoke about how finding his mentor in big brother Colin O'Sullivan had given him the opportunity to meet new people and explore the island.

He said: “I love to hang out with my big brother. It's really fun doing all the activities we do because most times it gets me out of the house and gets me active.

“It's been going very well and I hope it keeps going the way it's going. Thank you Colin.”

Mr O'Sullivan, who came to Bermuda from Ireland in 2016 and was matched with Eddy Burchall last year, spoke about his experience as a Big Brother.

He said: “It's important to recognise it's not a one-way street. This experience has been completely rewarding for me.”

Mr O'Sullivan described his little brother as “very smart and incredibly intelligent” and added: “He has become a really good friend to me since I met him.”

BBBS also thanked its supporters — individuals behind the scenes, board members, and community partners — who have played an important role in helping the charity fulfil its mission, at the event at City Hall.

Jeff Baron, shadow minister of national security, presented the charity with a cheque for $6,000 that he raised through a 1,350-mile three-day road trip from Dallas, Texas, to San Diego, California.

The former Big Brother also spoke about how the programme is able to “change the world” one person at a time.

Mr Baron said: “The time you spend with your little, each one of you, makes them better. And by making them better people, you make Bermuda better.

“And by making Bermuda a better place, you make the world a better place.”

Jessica Rowe, 29, and Lamumba Tucker, 38, were also officially announced as Big Sister and Big Brother of the Year.

Their “littler”, Rhamai Rhones-Mussenden and Jaire Shields, read tributes to their “Bigs” and shared how the experience had impacted them.

Ms Rowe said: “For me, being a big, has thus far been an incredible experience.

“When I first signed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters, little did I know that I would not only be gaining a sister but a friend for life, who I am eternally grateful for.”

Mr Tucker applauded parents for signing their children up to the programme and urged other potential mentors to come on board.

He said: “Anyone who is not a big, I strongly advise you to sign up to the Big Brothers Big Sisters programme. You will be amazed how fulfilling and rewarding it feels.”

For more information on BBBS or how to volunteer, visit bbbs.bm

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Year receive their “Thank Your Mentor” Awards at City Hall (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Rhamai Rhones-Mussenden thanks her Big Sister, Jessica Rowe, at the “Thank You Mentor” Awards yesterday at City Hall (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Jaire Shields thanks his Big Brother, Lamumba Tucker, at the “Thank You Mentor” Awards yesterday at City Hall (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Eddy Burchall thanks his mentor, Colin O'Sullivan, at the “Thank Your Mentor” Awards yesterday at City Hall (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published January 26, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated January 26, 2018 at 6:24 pm)

Big deal: ‘littles’ salute mentors

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