‘Ignite the power and potential of youth’

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County to honor community members at its 17th Autumn Culinaire

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County (BBBS-Mercer) will honor the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Center for Advocacy & Philanthropy (CAAP) at its 17th Autumn Culinaire. 

Held this year on Thursday, Oct. 19 at the Cobblestone Creek Country Club in Lawrence, the annual event celebrates BBBS-Mercer’s decades of providing life-changing mentorship opportunities to at-risk and under resourced youth throughout the county. Since being reconfigured in 2002, the chapter has positively affected the lives of over 8,000 young children, according to a press release.

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“We decided to honor ETS and CAAP because of their commitment to advancing quality and equity in education,” said Stephanie Karpowicz, executive director. “Their vision to transform the landscape of educational support to ensure every individual has the opportunity to meet their full potential aligns with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer’s mission to ‘Ignite the Power and Potential of Youth.'”

Dr. Jamal Watson, executive director of CAAP, said that ETS has worked “tirelessly to forge strong partnerships throughout New Jersey and the nation.”

“Working together we can tackle some of the most pressing issues that impact education,” said Watson. “For more than two decades, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County has been on the front lines, fostering meaningful relationships between young people and adults, and we salute this model of mentorship.”

In addition to honoring the work of ETS and CAAP, the event will honor two of its most outstanding volunteer Bigs, Bruce Diamond and Christina Jones, with the Greg Olsen Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year Awards.   

Diamond has been a “Big Brother” to Ezra since July 2019. He exemplifies what BBBS-Mercer hopes to see in a “Big Brother” – commitment to his “Little,” regular communication with program support staff, and participation in group activities for “Bigs” and “Littles.”

“We chose Bruce Diamond to be Big Brother of the Year because of the work he has done to help his Little improve his communication skills,” the press release stated. 

Jones started volunteering with BBBS-Mercer in 2017. She has always had a passion for helping young people; her relationship with her “Little Sister” reflects this. Over the past few years Christina has broadened her “Little Sisters'” horizons by providing exciting opportunities to build her Little’s confidence and ignite a passion for new interests. Jones’ dedication and commitment to her Little Sister truly demonstrates the power of successful mentoring. 

In addition to the above, the evening will celebrate and honor Mark Cannon with its BBBS-Mercer Legacy Award. Cannon has volunteered with BBBS-Mercer since 2007, when he became a “Big Brother” to Kyrie. He was awarded the Greg Olsen Big Brother of the Year award in 2012 for outstanding dedication to his “Little Brother” and served as a member of BBBS-Mercer’s Board of Trustees. Cannon remains a fierce champion of BBBS-Mercer’s programs and volunteer recruitment and was instrumental in growing its Next Gen Advisory Council. 

For more information about the event, or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities and journal ads, please visit tinyurl.com/BBBSAC2023

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