by Cori Hilsgen
Are you interested in making a “big” difference in helping shape someone’s life? If so, you might be interested in checking out the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota program like Sartell residents Sarah and Andy Noble did.
They and their children Alexandra, Katelyn and William, were recently selected as the 2018 Big Brothers Big Sisters Minnesota State Big Family of the Year. The family has been a mentor for two years.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota annually recognizes volunteers who go above and beyond their role as a mentor.
Other mentors who were selected to receive an award for the impact they’ve had on their “Little”/mentee and for their advocating of the mentoring program include the following: Kenny Hendrickson, Waite Park, as the 2018 Central Minnesota Big Brother of the Year, who has been a mentor for 10 years; Jessica Holmgren, St. Cloud, as the 2018 Central Minnesota Big Sister of the Year, who has been a mentor for seven years; Zach Faith, Foley High School, as the 2018 Central Minnesota High School Big Brother of the Year, who has been a mentor for three years; and Hanna Ritter, Rocori High School, as the 2018 Central Minnesota High School Big Sister of the Year, who has been a mentor for two years.
Local mentor candidates represent Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota in the statewide competition. The state selects one outstanding mentor in each category to represent Minnesota in a national competition. In addition to receiving the local title, three mentors from the St. Cloud agency were honored with the statewide title. These included Andy and Sarah Noble and their children; Hendrickson, who was selected as the 2018 Minnesota State Big Brother of the Year; and Faith, who was selected as 2018 Minnesota State High School Big Brother of the Year.
Award recipients were recently recognized during the Big Celebration, an annual event that honors the agency’s mentors.
The Nobles who have lived in Sartell for almost seven years, have been mentors for more than two years to Jesse Lloyd, 10, and have done a wide variety of activities with him including playing outside, playing board game nights, rock climbing, going to Valleyfair and going to a Vikings football game.
They have also gone to Summerland, Airmaxx, a holiday party and the Big Celebration.
The Nobles began their journey as a Big Family in October 2015. Both Andy and Sarah had interest in becoming Bigs but Sarah said they struggled to justify time away from their own young children. Mentoring as a family allowed them to build a relationship with their Little, Lloyd, give back to the area and lead by example for their children showing the difference you can make in someone’s life.
She said they enjoy participating in anything active with Lloyd. They love sports and games of all sorts. A favorite has been pickleball, which they have been able to do at the Sartell Community Center many times.
Sarah said Lloyd has a great backhand swing.
She said becoming a Big is a decision people won’t regret.
“We’ve invited our Little into our family and through this experience,” Sarah said,
“we have broadened our own horizons and exposed ourselves and our children to different types of families and relationships leading to increased awareness and acceptance of others around us. Big Brothers Big Sisters works to match you with a Big/Little with common interests so there is a natural connection. We hope our Little has experienced the same growth and friendship that we have in knowing him.”
Lloyd said his favorite thing about his Big family is having someone to talk with after school every Wednesday, if not every other day. His favorite thing to do with the Nobles is to “just hang out, have fun and just go do stuff with them.”
Lloyd said the Nobles are deserving of the Big Family of the Year award because they are doing stuff that’s helping others.
“The Nobles are very deserving of both of these awards,” said Mary Bechtold, a match support coordinator for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. “They have given Jesse a second family to spend time and enjoy activities with as well as offered support and encouragement to him during important times in his life.”
Bechtold, who lives in St. Joseph, said the Nobles are great mentors for the program and also a huge asset to the area.
Andy Noble connected his work place with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program to sponsor several families with youth in the program during the holiday season. Both Sarah and Andy also collected products from their coworkers for the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ hygiene product drive in January. These products were then donated to Pathways 4 Youth, a resource center for homeless youth, and are now available to people who stop at the center.
As a match, they have also volunteered at the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Golf Fore Kids’ Sake event the past two summers.
Bechtold said Jesse now refers to the Nobles as his “Big Dad,” “Big Mom,” “Big Sisters” and “Big Little Brother.”
“We encourage anyone interested in becoming a Big to reach out to the Big Brothers Big Sisters office to learn more,” Sarah said. “We were so impressed by the professionalism and dedication they have to making successful matches. We are proof one family can make a difference no matter how “Big” or “Little.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota currently has 100 children waiting for mentors. For more information, call 320-253-1616 or visit bigbscentralmn.org.