“Big sister” Katie Sellers and her “little brother” Fenton, as seen in this file photo from 2019. Sellers is a big sister through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick. Contributed photo

The little moments sometimes require a big effort.

For decades, the “Big” mentors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick have changed lives by offering their “Littles” quality time at ice rinks, ice cream shops and beyond. It isn’t always glamorous, but volunteers often find the enduring bonds they form with their Littles intensely rewarding.

Even less glamorous is the work it takes to keep it all running. Yet Carol Marquis, who took over as the mentorship organization’s executive director this week after serving on its board for the past five years, has big plans for the future.

“It’s very powerful, the mission of this organization, and it’s very successful,” said Marquis, who previously spent a decade as the marketing and communications director for Brunswick’s Maine State Music Theater. “I want to be part of that success. I want to help grow that even more.”

Marquis stood out from a sizable collection of candidates to replace longtime executive director Lindsay MacDonald, according to Board Chair Matt Bachman.

“It was unanimous,” he said. “Everybody landed on Carol.”


“I am thrilled that Carol is taking over as the executive director,” agreed Sophie Halpin, a longtime Big who got to know Carol as a board volunteer. “She just brings so much energy and passion to this work. I truly can’t imagine somebody better for the role.”

It takes critical behind the scenes work to bring in enough money and volunteers to keep the mentorship organization functioning, according to Marquis. For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the reach of the organization, she said. Popular school-based programs, which bring Bigs directly into local classrooms to meet with their Littles during lunchtimes and recesses, largely shut down, while fewer adults felt comfortable or capable of volunteering as mentors.

As a result, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick has served a little over 100 kids this year, down from around 180 in the years before the pandemic. Around two dozen Littles are currently waiting to be matched with Bigs, according to Bachman.

As schools take another step toward normalcy, Bachman said, the organization expects to return to pre-pandemic numbers by the end of this year. Yet it’s setting its sights even higher; Backman hopes Marquis’ marketing experience will help the organization expand to the point where it can serve up to 500 Midcoast kids.

“One of the board’s — and I think Carol’s — aspirations is to have a situation where Bigs are waiting for Littles, not Littles waiting for Bigs,” Bachman said. “Every youth in our community deserves a mentor.”

Marquis has had little time to settle in before facing her first major test as executive director: helping the organization secure the final $2,500 towards its $50,000 “Year of the Big” fundraising goal by July 31. Meeting that milestone will unlock an additional $50,000 in matching funds from several community partners, money that will primarily go toward recruiting more Bigs, according to Marquis.

That will be a vital first step in achieving Marquis’ goal of doubling the organization’s $300,000 annual budget within two years through increased fundraising and community partnerships.

“It’s hugely ambitious, but it’s totally doable if we go about it the right way,” Marquis said. “We want to be engaged with every facet of this community.”

To donate to the “Year of the Big” fund, visit bbbsbathbrunswick.org/year-of-the-big-fund/

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