2019 ‘Bigs of the Year’ to be honoured
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda announced their top two mentors yesterday.
Dan Samilski, won Big Brother of the Year and Nicole Walker was given the Big Sister of the Year award.
Mr Samilski is mentor to 12-year-old A’niaz Outerbridge and Ms Walker works with Shabrique Henderson, 17.
Mr Samilski, who has mentored A’niaz for five years, said: “Being a Big Brother or Big Sister is about fitting the Little into your life rather than moving your life around the Little.
“I don’t think it is a big ask of people — it is a positive thing to do and we have a good time every week.
“His favourite thing to do is fish, so we fish off a dock and we play football.”
He added: “I am married and have a two-year-old and a dog so we all hang out at my place quite often.
“You get quite a lot out of it being a Big Brother yourself. It is about being a friend and having a positive influence on them for a few hours a week, having positive conversations and giving them encouragement.
“I am lucky because my Little is very receptive to that and he has made awesome strides. Today he is very focused on school and he’s a fun-loving boy.”
The “Bigs” and their “Littles” will be honoured at an awards ceremony at City Hall in Hamilton at 12.30pm today.
Mr Samilski said: “It is very touching to be appreciated ... we have a great relationship and we have a really good time.”
Ms Walker, who has mentored Shabrique for three years, added she thought she had won because of a change in her Little She said: “I think it is because of the improvement that they saw in her — she was a little bit shy before but she has more confidence and she is on the honour roll pretty consistently.
“We tend to do a lot of outings and we are posting our photos on social media. We’ve been to football games, brunch, been to a few plays, and she actually made me go swimming before May 24.”
Ms Walker added: “I enjoy giving back and making an effort to help someone outside of my immediate circle of family and friends.
“It is also helping me to listen more in order to understand the issues that she might be going through so I can help her more effectively.”
Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, managing director for BBBS, said the charity was keen to recruit more men. She added: “Everyone has something to offer. People have skill sets and talents that they can teach and there are people who are in professions that young people are interested in.
“I have a 15-year-old young lady, Nyoaki Williams, in our programme who is interested in emceeing.
“The Ag Show asked me to emcee and so I let her do the Thursday when all the young people were there and she was so good they were blown away.
“She went back on the Saturday and I can see her doing a lot more events in the future.”
BBBS offers group mentoring and also husband and wife matchings for Little Brothers.
• For more information on becoming a volunteer or supporter of BBBS call 232-2802 or visit www.bbbs.bm