It was nearly four decades back that Nancy Durno bought a puppy for young Angela Boyce.
They became like siblings through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colchester and were reunited once more to celebrate the organization’s Big Night Out gala dinner on Oct. 13, celebrating 40 years of mentoring youth.
“I’m very proud of what she’s done with her life. She’s supporting for beautiful girls,” said Durno. “The connection is still there, even if we don’t see each other for a few months we’re still in touch on Facebook and we really enjoy meeting with each other. It’s like real siblings – there’s that closeness.”
As Boyce’s ‘big sister’ the pair went fishing, camping, walked in the park and on the beach and otherwise hung out at each other’s homes in the early 1980s. For Boyce herself, having a big sister was priceless as her parents had recently been through a divorce.
“It was someone I could invite in, I felt safe with her and I could talk about things,” said Boyce of Durno. “We seemed to hit it off right away.”
Later, Boyce finished her High School and moved to Tatamagouche, where she still lives. She currently works at the Basic Spirit Fine Craft and Gift Gallery in nearby Pugwash.
It was success stories like Boyce’s that were celebrated at the Big Night Out gala dinner, which featured the BBBS national CEO Matthew Chater and the Colchester chapter’s outgoing executive director Michelle Misener, who is stepping down after 35 years. The Oct. 13 gala was her last day with BBBS.
“It’s been an absolutely fabulous career and I’ve loved every day and the reason being that the power of mentorship is demonstrated by the children who come in every day, especially when they get their big brother or big sister and [seeing] the smiles on their faces,” said Misener.
While she did not match children with mentors herself, she nonetheless helped her staff to do so by launching numerous fundraising drives, recruiting volunteers and engaging in public relations.
Once Misener retires, she plans on visiting her son and grandchildren in England, do some volunteering and pursue her photography hobby.
Her goal is now to “relax, put my feet up and enjoy the simple things in life.”
Misener’s replacement at BBBS will be Nick Sharpe.
Sharpe is taking over a local BBBS in strong shape, as the group is relocating its offices from 26 Logan Street to the old Molly’s Dairy Bar in North River. This will re-open next year as a social enterprise project where youths will make and sell ice cream.
According to Misener, the goal of this project is teaching children workplace skills and a proper work ethic, as well as showing them how a non-profit organization works.
Chater, who spoke briefly at the gala, described the Colchester BBBS chapter as “exemplary,” saying that it gave him “a moment of pride.”
The group’s president Kelly Shaw said that BBBS has mentored literally thousands of local children and youths since the 1970s.
“Every young person deserves to have someone who’s crazy about them and for some kids that’s a grandparent, aunt, or uncle and for other kids that’s their big brother or big sister. That relationship helps kids develop the skills they need to be successful adults,” said Shaw.