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Big Brothers Big Sisters

April 27, 2005|BY WANDA T. WILLIAMS

WASHINGTON COUNTY

With a growing number of Washington County children being raised by single parents and grandparents, volunteers can make a huge impact on the lives of children living in such situations, said Robert McKee, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County.

Crystal Allison and Ed Distad are two volunteers who are making a difference. Combined, they've donated 26 years of service to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Allison has been a Big Sister for seven years and Distad is in his 19th year as a Big Brother. Both have gone above and beyond the call of duty, McKee said

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For their dedication and commitment, Allison received the Alice Sencindiver Big Sister of the Year award and Distad received the Meyer Berkson Big Brother of the Year award at a special banquet in November.

"The award represents the very best in mentoring. These are volunteers who go beyond what we ask," McKee said.

Allison, a nurse at Washington County Hospital, is a Big Sister to a 16-year-old sophomore at North Hagerstown High School.

"One of my goals is to keep her in school and make sure she completes her high school education," Allison said. "She knows any time she needs anything she can call on me."

Allison said having a Little Sister prepared her for motherhood and increased her sensitivity.

Distad, a retired Montgomery County school teacher and part-time teacher at Washington County Technical High School, has been a Big Brother to a 15-year-old freshman at Williamsport High School for four years.

"We've gone kite flying, we've gone to car shows, we've gone snow tubing. He lived at our house for eight months and he's traveled with us during the summer," said Distad, who encourages more adults to volunteer with the program.

Big Brother and Big Sister volunteers undergo a criminal background check, interviews and a reference check before they're matched with a child.

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