Some things take time these days, thanks to COVID-19 — but we didn’t want to let this slip by. Each year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berks County presents its Annual Awards for outstanding participants and outstanding supporters of our agency. The awards are typically presented during our Annual Holiday Party, but the COVID-19 challenges this year required us to do things a little different. And for our final announcement, we honor our 2020 Match of the Year!
Congratulations, Little Brother Nadianel, Big Sister Heather, and Big Sister Cory! They are what we call a Big Couple match. Bigs Cory and Heather went into the match in June 2018 with the hopes of helping a Little gain new experiences and supporting the Little in expressing their interests. Meanwhile, LB Nadianel came into the program a bit on the shy side — but over the past two years has been able to grow closer with his Bigs. His communication and comfort levels with his Bigs have increased tremendously since the match began. Although COVID-19 affected the time they spent together face-to-face, this match has found innovative ways to stay connected during this time — incorporating video chatting, playing games together over video chat, and texting each other. Both Bigs and LB Nadianel often refer to their match as “the perfect match.”
Our Community Partner of the Year for 2020 has been a long-time partner of our agency, but took a major step forward when COVID-19 posed some heavy challenges for the agency. Forced to make BFKS 2020 an all-virtual event and to cancel our Jason Claudfelter Invitational (among other things), our fundraising efforts were sent into a tailspin. How could we maintain our staff and sustain our programs during a time when we knew our Littles needed us most without these fundraising efforts? Enter The Giorgi Family Foundation! We hoped for a little help, but received so much more. The Giorgi Family Foundation provided this agency with a $63,000 grant to make up any shortfalls we anticipated in our fundraising event. In addition, the Foundation not only continued the funding we have received annually for the past few years, but increased the amount this year — providing us with an additional $20,000 grant in the latter half of 2020. Our programs did continue uninterrupted and un-curtailed in 2020; our staff remained at full strength; and all of our Littles learned that so many people are here to DEFEND their POTENTIAL! That would not have been possible without the support of the Berks County community and — in particular — our Community Partner of the Year 2020: The Giorgi Family Foundation!
Scott & Pam Poch were our COUL Big(s) of the Year! Scott & Pam always exceed the minimum activity requirements and this year has proven no different despite the challenges of COVID-19. They have participated in activities both in person and virtually. They remain a constant friendly face and positive energy which our kids so desperately need in a time like this. These Bigs are always willing to lend a helping had to the little’s and the agency. They have provided many activity supplies and small prizes for the littles over the past year. This couple continues to be a wealth of knowledge and creativity that bring joy to everyone they meet. We extend a huge THANK YOU to our COUL Big(s) of the Year… Scott and Pam Poch!
Our 2020 David Hyman Volunteer of the Year is Nicki Morrissey! Matched in April 2012, our Volunteer of the Year was also honored in 2015 as the Big Sister part of the Match of the Year. She was matched to then Little Sister Diamond. She and Diamond were matched for about 5 ½ years – and when the match ended, Nicki stay on as and has remained a COUL Big. But in the same year 2015 that she had been honored as Match of the Year, Nicki took another step forward in the agency by joining our Board of Directors – immediately volunteering to Chair the Volunteer Recruitment Committee. She has also served on the Activities, Capital Campaign, Fund Development, Personnel, and Planning Committees. In 2018, she joined the Executive Committee as the Vice President – and currently serves as the Board President. In addition, since her match closed in 2017, Nicki has been a Big Sister for our group-mentoring program COUL (the Club Of Unmatched Littles). In this very difficult year, Nicki has been called upon time and time again – and has never hesitated to be there for me, for the staff, and for the agency at the spur of the moment…whenever needed. Her dedication and motivation as a DEFENDER OF POTENTIAL in our Littles has never wavered.
Our COUL Little of the Year — Little Brother Roman — is a person who has grown tremendously in a short period of time. This little joined the COUL program in early 2020 as a shy and quite young man. He began coming to activities and quickly opened up and started making friends. His true personality started to shine as he got more involved in the program. He is always polite and thankful for everything. This little brother is sure to put a smile on your face just by talking to him.
We previously announced our Community Champion of the Year…Michael McCormac. He was a Board member at BBBS of Northeast Ohio for a little over a year before moving to Berks County. Even before he moved, he contacted the agency ahead of time to express his interest in our Board – because, he said, he was one of those children who needed a positive role model and that has influenced his life all these years. Joining our Board in October 2013, he immediately set out to also volunteer as a COUL Big and has been so since. Also since then, he took on the extra responsibility of being our Building Committee chair – and often spends his time off working on our property & facilities. In 2019, our Community Champion stepped up again on our Board – becoming the Board Vice-President. Besides his direct involvement with our agency, our Community Champion takes his dedication for our mission into the community – advocating on our behalf for volunteers, donations, prizes, and more. Most recently, our Community Champion was the driving force behind a new and timely fundraiser this year…Mask Up for BBBS! Using his own financial resources, our Community Champion purchased the masks to start the campaign. Not only did we sell 40 masks so far (raising over $800), but the campaign increased agency awareness.
Our Teen of the Year is Little Brother Steel. Anyone who is involved with TEEN, COUL, or COUL & Match activities is probably familiar with our TEEN of the Year. He gets along well with not only his peers, but the adult volunteers as well. He is always polite, mature and pleasant to speak with! Our TEEN of the Year has grown and matured a lot in the years since coming to the agency. He has been with the agency for 8 years and has just recently been matched with a Big Brother! He is making strives to plan for his future, and his efforts are certainly not going un-noticed. Not only does he participate in our programs here, but he’s also involved in extracurricular activities like swimming. This teen is an all-around smart, kind young man.
Our Corporate Sponsor of the Year is Performance Toyota. Our Corporate Sponsor of the Year has been a great supporter of our agency for a number of years now and in many different ways. Performance Toyota is one of several companies that provide Holiday gifts each year to our Little Brothers and Little Sisters, and this year was no different. The company has also provided an annual gift to help the agency fund the Holiday Party itself, and again this year was no different despite not having our typical Holiday Party. While picking up the gifts, our friends at Performance Toyota presented the agency with a check of nearly $1,600. For the past few years, Performance Toyota has also participated in our annual Bowl For Kids’ Sake fundraiser as a T-Shirt Sponsor, and has also been a supporter of our annual Jason Claudfelter Golf Invitational.
Our final announcement will be coming soon…the 2020 Match of the Year!