Charbonneau picked as outstanding mentor

Daily Citizen

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Georgia Mountains has selected Roberta Charbonneau as “Big of the Year.”

Charbonneau has been matched to her Little Sister, Taylor, for five years. She knew Taylor and the family before becoming her Big Sister through her work with the family as a social worker. Charbonneau recalls one of their first visits after being matched and remembers asking Taylor about her hobbies and what she liked to do. She replied that she liked sports, her pets and being outdoors. When Charbonneau asked about reading, she quickly responded that her family was more of an outdoor family and that they did not like to read.

Charbonneau says she giggled to herself since she is an avid reader. She carefully selected an adventure book to start Taylor’s reading journey, “Swiss Family Robinson.” Taylor was hooked and is now an avid reader, too.

Charbonneau says that mentoring Taylor has included supporting her in major life events. Taylor lost her father at the age of 16 months from an automobile accident. In 2009, she lost her beloved mother to Huntington’s disease. Charbonneau supported and helped Taylor and her three sisters through this difficult time. Taylor says, “She was my shoulder to cry on as well as my helping hand through it all.”

In regard to their match, Taylor says, “If there was ever a person who has been the most consistent in my life it is my Big Sister, Roberta. I will always be grateful for the amazing things she has done for me. I sometimes refer to her as my guardian angel because if it were possible to have angels on Earth, she would definitely fit the requirements.

She has helped me through so much that I really don’t know where I would be without her.”

Last year, Taylor’s living situation became difficult for her and for her caregiver. Charbonneau talked with friends at her church who knew Taylor from her many visits to the church with Charbonneau and her husband. This couple immediately decided they would like to adopt Taylor. Their daughter, who was 12, had always said she wanted a big sister, and this family moved forward to have Taylor become part of their family.

Taylor expresses the situation this way, “To add to the list of miraculous things Roberta has done for my life, one of them that has meant the most to me is, well, saving my life by helping me get my new family and giving me stability. She has given me what I always craved but never thought possible — a normal family. A simple ‘I love you’ or ‘Thank you’ will never truly show how I feel about Roberta.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters joins Taylor in saluting Charbonneau as an outstanding Big Sister.

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