Big Brothers, Big Sisters awards ceremony recalls Bryce Dexter
MACOMB — A Big Brothers, Big Sisters award ceremony Wednesday presented an emotional, but joyful tribute to the late Bryce Dexter and the power of positive mentoring relationships.
About 150 BBBS supporters gathered in the Wesley Village Community Center Wednesday evening to witness the presentation of two awards: The Match of the Year Award and The Bryce Dexter Impact Award, which was newly-established this year.
Sue Dexter, Bryce Dexter’s wife, and their daughter Torie Richards received The Bryce Dexter Impact Award on behalf of Bryce. The trophy, a plaque which displays a photograph of Bryce Dexter and his Little, Seth, will be awarded yearly to the person with the biggest positive impact on community children that are in the BBBS program.
Eric Jameson, a mentor known as a “Big” received The Match of the Year Award — a set of two trophies — on behalf of himself and Tavahreon, the “Little” he mentors. The award is given to the Big/Little pair that demonstrates the most community leadership.
Beyond the awards, the evening was marked by often emotional outpourings of appreciation and remembrance of the positive impacts Dexter and other people in the program have brought to individuals, families and the community.
Program Director Pete Tarantola opened the program by describing Dexter as a “happy man.” Commenting on the prior hour that participants had spent talking to one another before dinner, he said, “Socializing and having fun is a good way to honor him.”
Dexter previously worked with kids that had special needs, and had mentored other Littles in the program before he began as program director. After Tarantola became program director, he started mentoring Seth, with the help and support of his family.
“They made a tremendous difference in the life of this kid. They’ve given him a better foundation in life,” he said.
He then described how Dexter had often paid for things that Seth needed, like food when he had none at home, and basketball games so he would have an opportunity to enjoy himself. “He loved his life. He loved the people around him. He loved his church. He loved Seth.”
“Bryce was really important to me personally, and to this organization,” Tarantola said.
The legacy of positive mentoring relationships was highlighted by others as well. Two speakers, Tim Lipp and Joe Satrom, came in from North Dakota to each give their own account of how mentoring through the program had transformed their lives.
Satrom mentored Lipp and his brother Terry years ago. They have maintained friendships ever since they were paired up.
Jameson and his Little were chosen for their award because they often did things like rake leaves and shovel snow for elderly residents.
He had to pause often, overcome with emotion as he expressed his pride in his Little. Their mutual goal is to ensure Tavahreon receives his college degree.
— Reach Michelle Langhout by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook.