Illinois State Association
President Lisa Morel Las, CEO
Legislative Leaders Honored by Big Brothers Big Sisters Illinois State Association
Sen. Wilhelmi named “Honorary Big Brother” and Rep. Watson Named “Big Brother Emeritus”
Springfield, IL (November 8, 2011) – State Rep. Jim Watson (R-97, Jacksonville) and State Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi (D-43, Joliet) received Big Brothers Big Sisters Illinois State Association leadership awards in Springfield today. Eighteen Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies cover 92 counties throughout the State of Illinois.
Barbara Cempura, president of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Illinois State Association explained, “because of their strong support and long-term commitment to the Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in their respective legislative districts, Watson was honored as Big Brother Emeritus and Wilhelmi was named Honorary Big Brother.”
“It is truly an honor to be recognized by such a wonderful organization as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Illinois,” said Watson.
Wilhelmi said, “I'm humbled and proud to receive this recognition, and I will continue to support Big Brothers Big Sisters in their important mission.”
Watson’s involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters began in 1991 when he was matched as a Big Brother with Brad, a young boy who had no male role model in his life, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois in Jacksonville. During their 10-year match, they talked a lot about what Brad wanted to be when he grew up and how school was important.
Following Watson’s example, Brad graduated from college and is now working at an insurance company. And, in a pay-it-forward effort, Brad was recently matched as a Big Brother to another child in need.
As a champion of the positive impact one-to-one mentoring can have on a child’s life,
Watson scheduled public hearings in Chicago and downstate. The hearings allowed Big Brothers Big Sisters to tell their story of positive change to legislators.
“The Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies throughout Illinois are much better positioned to positively impact our youth than any government entity,” Watson noted. “In fact, as we continue to struggle with budget deficits, organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters represent the most promising way forward.”
Wilhelmi has shown his commitment to the at-risk kids served by Big Brothers Big Sisters since he began serving in the Illinois Senate six years ago. He secured over $70,000 toward the purchase of a much needed building and an electronic sign that is used to attract children, recruit volunteers, thank sponsors and publicize fundraising events at the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in Joliet.
Additionally, Wilhelmi nominated the Joliet agency for an AT&T “Investing in Illinois” monetary award. He regularly attends and supports the agency’s fundraising events and donated tickets to sporting events for matches to attend.
"Big Brothers Big Sisters is a wonderful organization that provides great assistance to our local kids," Wilhelmi said. "Their mentorship programs provide essential guidance to our children, by providing them positive interaction with adults.”
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