Putting a smile on a child’s face is reward enough for most volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Most any volunteer will say they don’t give hundreds of hours each year in hopes of receiving an award or accolades, they do it because they know how much spending a few hours with a child can mean.
Several such giving volunteers were celebrated May 16 at the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters Big Event.
For the past five years, Mark Lyons and Chaparral Pines have sponsored the celebratory dinner at the Chaparral Pines clubhouse.
This year, Jennifer and Richard Hinkie were named Big Couple of the Year; Austin Shannon was awarded High School Big Brother of the Year and Shoshanah Wright received High School Big Sister 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 award presentations.
For Quinlan, the event was bittersweet. It was her last Big Event. She and her family are moving to Montana.
While thanking volunteers, Quinlan broke down in tears. Quinlan said everyone, especially high school Bigs (mentors), have inspired her with their caring and giving attitudes.
Making the award to Wright, Quinlan and Henley said, “This young woman has poured great effort and heart into each relationship she has formed with Littles.”
Wright has volunteered with the program for two years during high school, mentoring four children.
Introducing Shannon, “Exuberant, selfless, dependable, steadfast — those are the words I would use to describe Austin Shannon. This young man has put countless hours of dedication to children enrolled in our program and we are proud to present him with the 2012 High School Big Brother of the Year Award and scholarship.”
Shannon has been a Big Brother for two years, mentoring three children.
Both Wright and Shannon each received $750 scholarships from the Kiwanis Club of Zane Grey Country.
The Hinkies have worked with BBBS for three years as mentors for Alonzo Cohen.
“They have built a great friendship based on trust, respect and acceptance. Jennifer and Richard’s passion for serving others in the community got them involved in very important local community projects.”
Cohen said the Hinkies have made him feel important.
“Richard and Jennifer have always embraced Alonzo for who he is. Both of them have been two amazing companions in Alonzo’s life journey and tireless supporters of his dreams.”