Eric London of Bath was named Big of the Year at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick Awards on Dec. 11 at Frontier in the Fort Andross Mill in Brunswick.

“The most valuable thing you have in your life is your time. Choose how you use it wisely,” London said. “That’s what Ashby and I do on Sundays.”

For more than 3 years, London – whose own children are grown – has mentored Ashby Haywood, who is now a 12-year-old student at Mount Ararat Middle School in Topsham.

“When I go with Eric, I’m always learning something new,” said Haywood, giving examples as varied as rock climbing and experimenting with chocolate pasta. “This program has really changed my life for the better.”

Brianna and Nicholas O’Brien of Lisbon are among the more than 200 volunteers creating and supporting one-on-one relationships with youths age 6 to 18 in the region of Brunswick, Harpswell and Sagadahoc County.

“We have both overcome a lot, and we feel like we’ve made it and don’t want to be selfish with that success,” he said. “The more we can share positivity and life tips with the next generation, the better. The biggest thing is being present.”

Board President Sherry Plunkett said, “Our children generally come from one-parent families, some live with grandparents instead of parents and some come from families that are low-income. Some of these kids, a parent has died or is incarcerated. A lot of these kids spend the majority of their time in their home. Getting Littles out there with their Bigs opens them to opportunities that don’t normally exist in their world.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick served 198 youths in 2019 and is aiming for 300 in 2020 with the support of community partnerships. Pledges made at the awards night totaled $38,000, including matching gift donations.

Community partners that were recognized include Crooker Construction, Burgess Technology Services and Tom Stevens of Bath Iron Works.

Honoree Perk Ramsay, an employee at Rocky’s Ace Hardware in Bath, exemplifies the power to accomplish big things by doing small things over time. For the past nine years, she has sold her hand-felted bird ornaments and other crafts alongside donated household goods on two endcaps in the hardware store. Most items sell for a dollar or less. This small-scale but sustained effort has raised $23,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected].

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