This is the fifth installment of the spotlight on the 2019 “With Heart In Hand” volunteer award recipients.

Janice Gibson, nominated by Pam Curley, Big Brothers Big Sisters of York & Adams Counties, received the Mentor Award.

When Big Sister Janice was thinking about how to make a difference in Little Sister Ashlyn’s life, she decided she would lead by example. Janice loves to spend time outdoors with her dogs on the nearby Appalachian Trail, but she had no one with whom to keep active.

Fortunately, she signed up to be a Big Sister for Ashlyn, a 7-year old girl living with her two older siblings and great-grandparents. The two hit the ground running as soon as they were matched in 2016, spending over 120 hours together in 2018.

Before she met Janice, Ashlyn would spend a lot of her time indoors playing video games, but since she was matched, she has been hiking and swimming with her Big Sister and her dogs.

After spending so much time on the trail, the duo decided to give back to the area they loved, volunteering as docents at the Appalachian Trail Museum at Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

Janice also volunteers her time to Road Scholars, that leads hiking tours on the Appalachian Trail. Ashlyn, encouraged by Janice, started playing in a basketball program and has just completed her second season where she gained the skills and positive attitude needed to embrace physical activity.

The benefits continue into the classroom. Ashlyn used to be a reluctant reader, but after she and Janice began to pick out books to take turns ready chapters, Ashlyn’s love of reading bloomed.

Ashlyn’s great-grandparents are grateful that Janice has had such a strong positive influence on Ashlyn who has become healthier, smarter, stronger, and most importantly, happier.

Project Hope Mentors, nominated by Tessa Adams, Adams County Children & Youth Services receive the Group Mentor award.

Project Hope matches foster care youth, as well as, other at-risk youth, ages 13—21, with a positive, caring adult to coach them in daily activities, be a listening ear, introduce them to new opportunities, empower them to make responsible decisions, and spend time pursuing activities of shared interest.

Project Hope started out in 2018 with four dedicated volunteers who helped expand this uniquely impactful program and ended in 2018 with 10 mentors.

Project Hope mentors spend time with their mentee on a weekly basis. The mentors have been involved with Project Hope for anywhere from three months to three years and in 2018 logged over 400 hours spent with their mentees.

Each of the mentors nominated for this award — Brandon Brenize, Barb Ruppert, Brian Long, Jill Shultz, Chris Thomas, Katrina Warnick, Bill Farris, Chrisanne Bowden and Yemi Gagliardi — were part of 2018’s growth and success. These mentors have helped their mentees build their support networks and have helped their mentees overcome adversities.

Mentoring teenagers is no easy feat and somehow Project Hope mentors make it look effortless; bonding with their mentee almost instantly and teaching them the importance and value of a positive presence.

Stay tuned for next installment of the 2019 With Heart In Hand Spotlight. Great things happen when we Live United!

Vickie Corbett is the executive director of United Way of Adams County.

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