State’s oldest youth mentor program salutes volunteers

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Sheboygan County recently recognized 54 volunteers at the organization’s 50th annual volunteer recognition banquet at Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan.

The organization started in 1964 as a pilot of the Sheboygan Kiwanis Club and incorporated, as well as made the first local match, in 1965. The Sheboygan organization is the oldest Big Brother Big Sister chapter in Wisconsin.

In 2015, Big Brothers Big Sisters provided one-on-one mentors for 433 children from throughout the county. These goal-oriented relationships are designed to address the needs of the children to who the mentors are individually paired.

“Because of our volunteers, we were able to grow 14 percent in the number of kids matched over the last two years,” Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sheboygan County Executive Director Tim Kaker said. “We pride ourselves in identifying the 'right' child for each mentor volunteer and support the mentor during the entire length of each relationship. Our ability to serve children is dependent on securing our corps of mentors. We may not meet the needs of every child in need, but we do have a positive impact on virtually every child we serve.”

Among the honorees was Jodi Damrau of Sheboygan who was recognized for 25 years of service. Damrau has been matched with one Little Sister and two Little Brothers with her husband, Doug, in the Couples Program.

Jodi and Doug are currently matched for three years with their current Little Brother, Deven.

“Being a Big Sister is a big part of my life,” said Damrau. “There are so many kids that need an adult friend in their lives. I’m just pleased to be able to help a child”

Recognized for 20 years of service were John Koehler and Mark Schuessler of Oostburg, while Cheryl Magruder and Joanne Suhm of Sheboygan Falls were each recognized for 15 years.

Presented with plaques for 10 years of service were Nena Bemis (Plymouth), Peg Lange (Plymouth), Sherry Marquardt (Plymouth), Becky Popp (Sheboygan Falls), Ray Ramos (Sheboygan Falls) and Ruth TenPas.

Recognized for 5 years of service were Joy Arbuckle (Cascade), Becky Arens (Adell), Kim Feld, Jessica Hein, Barb Keitel, Mark Koenig, Pat Lueschow, Denise Nugent, Frank Simonis, Mike Sonnenberg (Howards Grove), Beth TenPas, Lorraine Thomas, Emily Wegner, Kevin Widder and Jackie Wing.

Area residents receiving two-year awards were Ed Abell (Cedar Grove), Dave Anderson, John Berken, Steve Cobb, Mary Ann Dolson, Beth Duginske, Amanda Ecker (Plymouth), Alison Gonzalez (Fond du Lac), Nikki Gray, Faye Hughes (Plymouth), Diane Kisow, Travis Knier, Wendy Kaeppler, Amanda Lane (Plymouth), Kathy Markevitch, Stacy Marklein (Plymouth), Joel Messner, David Meyer (Kiel), Kristin Nelson, Wayne amd Mary Novak (Sheboygan Falls), Adam Price (Plymouth), Jane Seipel, Kay Regan (Oostburg), Rhonda Shermeister, Kim VanCalligan, Donna Van Orden (Port Washington) and Alex Weldum (Theinsville)

Big Brothers Big Sisters partners with individual donors, foundations, corporations, United Way and others to build the critical network of support that funds and enables the work of carefully matching children with caring adult mentors and provides ongoing support to the child, volunteer mentor and child’s family.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Sheboygan County celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015.

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