Big Brothers Big Sisters of Manitowoc County has named Big Couple Tom and Betsy Kocourek and Little Brother Colton Wernecke as its match of the month for September. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Big Brothers Big Sisters wanted to honor a past match that has made an impact on their organization.
Each month, the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization selects a “match” for this recognition. The award is given in honor of the commitment the volunteer and child have made to each other and to the organization in developing a special friendship. This month Tom, Betsy, and Colton are going to be treated to free sandwiches courtesy of Subway.
Tom and Betsy are both retired, but have and continue to be, pillars in the Manitowoc community. They volunteer with numerous non profit organizations in the area, and felt called to become a “big couple” when they realized how many kids were waiting to be matched. Colton feels extremely lucky to have been matched with Tom and Betsy, calling them “two of the best people in the world.” Colton is a 2016 graduate of Valders High School, a 2018 graduate from NWTC, and is currently employed as a police officer with the Green Bay Police Department.
Tom and Betsy were matched with Colton over nine years ago, and while they have technically graduated from the program, they still have a special and ongoing relationship. Colton enjoyed how he was always treated like family and how Tom and Betsy always made sure he was doing ok and offered advice when needed. He remembers going on many trips together, especially to Woodland Dunes where he learned a lot about wildlife preservation- a cause Tom and Betsy are always eager to support. Colton shared, “Without having a real father figure in my life I needed someone to spend time with as my mother worked long hours. Tom and Betsy were much more than that. They quickly became my go to couple if I had any issues or comments to share.”
Tom and Betsy say that it has always been a pleasure to share time with Colton, whether it was going out to eat, fishing, attending the BBBS Halloween party, or visiting Lambeau Field. They have enjoyed watching him progress through high school and college, and were proud members of the audience when he was sworn in as a Green Bay Police officer. They have gotten as much from the match as Colton has and will always consider him family.
When asked what they think about encouraging others to join the BBBS program, Tom and Betsy responded, “Many might feel being a Big Brother, Big Sister, or Big Couple is too big of a time commitment or they don’t know what they would do with a Little Brother or Sister. We found that you don’t really have to plan special activities. The Little Brother or Little Sister generally just enjoys hanging with you. Simple things like board games, watching a football game, taking a walk, having an ice cream cone and sharing what happened at school this week. Just showing friendship and interest is often all the Little is looking for.” Colton added, “Being a big can and will change someone’s life.”
If you would like to learn more or get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, contact the Manitowoc agency at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 920-684-7445. Big Brothers Big Sisters would also like to invite you to celebrate their 50th anniversary picnic with them on September 28 from 4:30-7:30 at Lincoln Park. There will be a special message at 5:30; please reach out if you would like to attend or get involved.