WASHINGTON, Pa. (December 20, 2013)—Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) has been recognized by Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Greater Pittsburgh as a BIG Community Partner of the Year.
In conjunction with BBBS’ 4th Annual Celebrate Coalitions award Event Dec. 17, the day was declared by Pittsburgh city council as Big Brothers Big Sisters Celebrate Coalitions Day in the City of Pittsburgh.
W&J’s Big Brothers Big Sisters’ student organization, founded in 2007, organizes volunteers who serve as mentors to local children in the Washington Park and Trinity school districts, where students spend one-to-one time with a “little,” helping with homework, playing sports, doing arts and crafts, and enjoying other activities together on a weekly basis. Other W&J students and organizations contribute to BBBS each year through fundraisers as well, said Justin Dandoy, W&J’s director of volunteer programs. There have been 306 W&J students since the program’s inception matched with a “little.”
“I can honestly say that BBBS at W&J is our most popular volunteer program. Students know Big Brothers Big Sisters is a well-organized and respected organization, both on campus and in our community, and that’s something with which they want to affiliate. They want to be a part of the organization because they feel that they can make a true difference for the youth in our community, but they stay with the organization because of the wonderful relationships that are built with their ‘littles,’” Dandoy said. “Our relationship with BBBS in Greater Pittsburgh represents a best practice for our campus when connecting with new partnerships in the community, and they have become a true model. We greatly appreciate their partnership, andlook forward to a long-lasting connection.”
Celebrate Coalitions honors those individuals who have” displayed tremendous efforts for the agency.” Others honored included:
• Dennis Hazenstab, Male Recruitment Advisory Board Member of the Year. Hazenstab, of Lawrenceville, has been a Big Brother for five years. He is a manager with CPG Building Products.
• Doug Foster, BIG Speakers Bureau Member of the Year. Foster, of Wexford, has been involved with BBBS for over four years. He is founder of Aurochs Brewing Company.
• Jackie Belczyk, Young Professional Outreach Board Member of the Year. Belczyk, of the North Side, has been a Big Sister since 2009 and has served the last two years with the Young Professional Outreach Board as secretary and vice president. She is a research director for JURIST Legal News and Research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
• Heidi Nevala, Washington County Advisory Board Member of the Year. Nevala, of Mt. Lebanon, has been active with the BBBS Washington County Advisory Committee for the last two and one-half years. She is community relations director for Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.
• The Saturday Light Brigade joined W&J in being recognized as a BIG Community Partner of the Year.
BBBS provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. The agency’s evidence-based programs empower these children to achieve educational success, avoid risky behaviors, set higher aspirations, and develop greater confidence and better relationships. BBBS of Greater Pittsburgh serves about 1,200 children annually in Allegheny, Greene and Washington counties and has earned national recognition for program quality and organizational excellence.