Smiles and laughter filled the Forest Ballroom at Hotel RL on January 31, 2018 as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington held their BIG Brunch event. Community members and local businesses came together to learn more about the Gold Star Youth Mentorship Program, a partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington (BBBSSW) and wear blue: run to remember that matches children who have lost a service member parent with a mentor who is a member of the armed forces.

“This event is really important because we want to share the story of our Littles, our Gold Star Youth,” said Pearl Price, director of marketing and outreach for BBBSSW. “And, to raise awareness and support of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington as a whole.”

Guests mingled and networked over mimosas and coffee for the first half hour of the event, learning about each other and why they love BBBSSW. Jeff Engle, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington, welcomed the crowd and gave opening remarks, emphasizing why he finds the work of the organization so meaningful.

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Fisher Jones Dentistry took great honor in receiving a Community Partner Award from BBBSSW. | Photo credit: Spencer Spotts

Engle then presented the Community Partner of the Year Award to Fisher Jones Dentistry for their dedication and continued support of BBBSSW. Dr. Matt Fisher gave a moving speech on his own experiences as a child and why he finds BBBSSW so powerful to much applause from the room. Guests were then served brunch while a video highlighting the Gold Star Youth program played for the room.

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Lisa Hallet’s keynote address perfectly captured the importance of mentorship in the lives of youth. | Photo credit: Spencer Spotts

As brunch wrapped up, one of the highlights of the event unfolded as Lisa Hallett, Co-Founder and Executive Director of wear blue: run to remember, presented her keynote presentation. She led the room on a journey through her marriage and the building of her family with her husband who was later killed in Afghanistan only weeks after having their third child. She spoke to the importance of mentorship programs and in particular the Gold Star Youth Mentorship program, leaving everyone in the room with wet eyes and a standing ovation.

Mark Boyer, Board President of BBBSSW, closed the event and asked for those in attendance to donate what they could to help fund the Gold Star Youth Mentorship program. All net proceeds from the 2018 BIG Brunch will be used for the Gold Star Youth Mentorship Program.

Lisa Hallett and the Board of Directors at the BIG Brunch 2018. | Photo credit: Spencer Spotts

“I started as a ‘Big’ up in Seattle and was very inspired to be involved with this program more,” said Ben Paylor, Board member and representative from Olympia Federal Savings. “Being on the Board helps me make some kind of contribution to youth in the area…and Oly Fed has been a long time supporter of [BBBSSW], we really believe in their mission.”

Be sure to follow Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington on Facebook for future events and happenings.

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