REM Award Honorees (2001) — Big Brothers Big Sisters — Nina MacDonald and Ellen Treadwell

Nina MacDonald (L) and Ellen Treadwell

Ellen Treadwell, RN, became a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kennebec Valley in 1998, when she was matched with a little girl named Nina who was very shy and having difficulties in school. Ellen has been an active participant in many BB/BS activities and recently joined the agency’s Board of Directors. She lives in Fairfield with her husband Bill and works as a critical care nurse at MaineGeneral Medical Center, Thayer Unit in Waterville. She enjoys adventure travel, scuba diving (including shark dives), and underwater photography.

Ellen believes that the most important part of becoming a mentor is helping children reach their full potential. With Ellen’s guidance, Nina is now outgoing. Although still quiet and a little shy around some, she has become a full participant in life! She participates in the classroom and has improved in all her schoolwork. Her reading ability has risen four grade levels. Ellen has encouraged Nina to work very hard to achieve these goals and Nina has learned how important an education is to her future.

Nina MacDonald is 13 years old, and has been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kennebec Valley since 1998 when she was matched with her Big Sister, Ellen Treadwell. Nina attended Waterville schools before recently moving to Clinton. She is in the 7th grade. Nina enjoys all sports and played for three years as the only girl on an all-male football team. She performs with Kings Kids, a children’s theater through the Blessed Hope Church.

Nina became a volunteer herself about 1½ years ago when she started the Helping Club with some guidance from her Big Sister Ellen, who taught Nina the importance of helping others. The members of the Club are children and they hold fundraising events to raise money for local charities. To date they have raised money for a homeless shelter, a food bank, an animal shelter and the Salvation Army. They also adopted a family for Christmas. The Club recently held a car wash, raising $105 for the New York disaster relief fund and the BB/BS mentoring program.

Ellen and Nina have become strong advocates for mentoring. They have appeared on the local cable show, Keeping Pace, to talk about their match and encourage others to volunteer for mentoring programs. They also stood before the Education and Appropriations Committees of the Maine State Legislature to speak out for increased funding for mentoring programs. Nina also told her own story to a large audience (including Gov. King) in the Hall of Flags on Mentor Awareness Day. It is Nina’s hope to one day become a Big Sister herself.

Note: In August 2012, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kennebec Valley ceased operations. Camden-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of MidMaine subsequently expanded it operations to cover Greater Waterville and Greater Augusta.

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