It came as a surprise when Michele Collins won the very first Colchester Big Brothers Big Sisters Big Bucks draw, in 2012.
It was an even bigger surprise when she became a two-time winner on Jan. 8.
“I’m still in shock,” she said. “I’ve played the same two numbers since the beginning because I want to support the organization. I’ve seen the way they help people.
“When my eldest daughter, Felicia, who is 33 now, was about six I was a single mother and we couldn’t afford to do a lot. I was working, and I felt she needed more attention, so I put her name on the list and she became a Little. It’s been part of our lives since then.”
Michele won $1,000 in the April 3, 2012 draw, with number 541. That same number brought in a $21,100 windfall this year.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters helped Felicia with self-confidence and gave her the opportunity to learn new things,” she said. “She did a lot of things with her Big Sister and there were things like Christmas parties for kids.”
Felicia and her Big Sister, Lisa MacPhee Gates, continued their friendship as the years went by and are still in touch, although Felicia now lives in Iqaluit.
Felicia also volunteered as a Big Sister until moving away from the area.
“It’s a worthwhile cause, and the Bigs get a lot out of it, too,” said Michele. “I’m of the old school belief that it takes a village to raise a child and I’d encourage anyone with time to give to get involved in helping in some way.”
Michele is currently living in Ottawa and plans to volunteer at the children’s hospital.
And, of course, she’ll continue to play Big Bucks.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester
After 21 years on Logan Street Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester recently moved to 309 Highway 311 in North River, the former Molly’s Dairy Bar, in January.
“We’re slowly making it our new home,” said executive director Nick Sharpe. “All of our stuff has been moved and we’ve had a lot of people coming in to visit.
“We’re excited about the potential in the property, especially with the green space. We’re thinking about things we could add at the back and would like to include the community in the process.”
There are plans to reopen the dairy bar with the organization operating it as a social enterprise.
“This space allows us to grow in the numbers we serve,” said Sharpe. “We plan to launch a learn-to-lead program. Youth who operate the dairy bar will work with staff to learn about running a non-profit organization.”
Plans are for the dairy bar to reopen in May.