Volunteer of the year award nominee: Iris Kemp

Neighbors helping neighbors

Posted: Friday, December 08, 2006

Volunteer of the year award nominee

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Name: Iris Kemp

Volunteer organization: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Alaska - Upper Lynn Canal Office.

Years of service: 2.

Occupation: high school student.

Iris says: "I think my experiences as a Big Sister have built more assets in me than any other single service activity. ... Being a Big Sister hasn't just prepared me for the future with such specific concepts as teaching styles and conflict prevention. I've learned from Kai in ways that are hard to put into words. First of all, I've discovered that friendship has absolutely nothing to do with age. ... Occasionally, our conversations do drift into more serious subjects, which has led to my second lesson from Kai: the value of listening... My participation in Big Brothers Big Sisters has helped prepare me for a future in educational studies and enabled me to gain the asset of good listening. I consider both concepts to be very important. But quite honestly, they pale in comparison with the greatest benefit of my experience as a Big Sister: the gift of a wonderful, fun friendship that i know will last long after my graduation."

Her BBBS supervisor, Burl Sheldon, says: "(Iris') involvement in the Big Brothers Big Sisters School Program is a model for the entire community: children, her peers and the community at large. ... I periodically observed Iris with her Little Brother, Kai. She always modeled compassion, good humor and maturity and most importantly, she kept her word - honoring the commitments she made to letter. ... It is not unusual for high school students to enroll as school program volunteers, but Iris applied herself to being a friend and mentor with a sense of purpose and commitment, while maintaining her outstanding scholastic achievement. ... I feel that Iris' service as a Big Sister is a model for other students who I anticipate enrolling as Bigs this year. Moreover, unlike many of her peers, she clearly understands the 'Power of One' - that one person can make positive change through their patience, commitment and kindness."

• Neighbors Helping Neighbors is a weekly feature on the Neighbors page and is in collaboration with the United Way of Southeast Alaska. More volunteer opportunities can be found online at the Volunteer Center of Southeast Ak., www.unitedwayseak.org.

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