Celebrating Big Hearts, Good People

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Look close around the Rim Country communities and you will find a multitude of big hearts and good people.

Some of those big hearts and good people were celebrated — and honored — at the Big Brothers Big Sisters 2011 Big Event May 11. For the past four years, Mark Lyons and Chaparral Pines sponsored the celebratory dinner at the Chaparral Pines clubhouse.

Alexis Bechman was named Big Sister of the Year; Joel Brandt, Big Brother of the Year; Cherie Van Camp, High School Big Sister of the Year; and Daniel Conley, High School Big Brother of the Year.

Robert Henley, director of development for Northern Gila County Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and April Quinlan, program specialist for Northern Gila County, made the presentations.

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Tom Brossart/Roundup

Honored for their contributions to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program are (from left to right) Joel Brandt, Alexis Bechman, Cherie Van Camp and Daniel Conley.

Making the award to Bechman, they said, “Kindness and commitment are two words that come to mind when describing Alexis Bechman. She and her Little Nikki have been matched for two years … they have fun together no matter what they are doing. Alexis is adored not only by Nikki … but by Nikki’s family as well. … She is always willing to lend a hand to Nikki’s family and to Big Brothers Big Sisters when it is needed …”

Bechman is a reporter with the Roundup.

“Most of the Roundup employees didn’t even know that Alexis was a Big Sister,” said publisher John Naughton.

“Like most of our employees, she quietly volunteers her time and effort for the right reasons, not expecting much fanfare. I am extremely proud of Alexis and this well deserved recognition.”

Introducing Brandt, “Joel Brandt and (his Little) Michael have been matched for 2-1/2 years. During this time an amazing friendship and lifelong bond has forged between the two of them. Joel has gone above and beyond to involve Michael in many different activities to help him grow as a young man … Michael (has) repeatedly (said) that he hopes to be just like his Big Brother when he grows up …”

In honoring Van Camp, the presenters said she has been with the program for seven years, first as a Little Sister and now as a Big Sister. “Cherie has gone above and beyond to show love and dedication to the Littles she is matched with … She goes above and beyond in attempting to assist the Big Brothers Big Sisters program … Cherie’s energetic personality and compassion for others has caused her to make a great difference in each of the Little Sisters she has worked with this year. She is a true example of the difference Big Brothers Big Sisters can make in life …”

Daniel Conley has been a Big Brother for two years. “… he has been matched with four different Little Brothers … He has shown great compassion and concern for each child he has worked with. Daniel … is always willing to help with other Littles in the program whose Bigs aren’t available for the day. He provides the extra effort to ensure he is meeting the needs of his Littles. He has done a great job of representing Big Brothers Big Sisters in the community.”

“April and I are very proud of Alexis and of the rest of the Bigs of the Year,” Henley said.

Scholarships were awarded to the young people in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Van Camp was given a $1,000 scholarship from Rotary Club of Payson and Conley received the same amount from Kiwanis Club of Zane Grey Country. Also awarded were Perla Guereque, who was presented a $250 scholarship sponsored by Robert and Ann Henley, and Caleb Harrison, who was given a $250 award from the Rev. Daniel Tantimonaco of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

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