• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida Announces New Okaloosa/Walton County Community Board

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    May 07, 2021
    Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida (BBBSNWFL) is honored to announce a new community board to serve Okaloosa and Walton Counties. This board of dedicated and passionate volunteers are ready to spread the mission and vision of BBBSNWFL throughout this service area.

    Introducing the community board members: Rique Gwin, Department of Defense – Duke Field; Kelly Gwin, Department of Defense – Duke Field; John A. Halguin II, Okaloosa Tax Collector’s Office; James Wilson, Streamline Defense; Sue Laushine, Coastal Realty Services; and Jim Brechin, former owner of Destin Animal Clinic.

    “I’m so very honored to have such wonderful Bigs associated with the agency,” says BBBSNWFL CEO and President Paula Shell. “Big Brother and Community Board Chair Rique Gwin’s passion, drive, and leadership has pulled together six wonderful community leaders who will lead in fundraising and sharing the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission within the Okaloosa/Walton Counties. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

    The new board has already begun work on building community ties. In February, BBBSNWFL Leadership and board members met with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department and the Fort Walton Beach Police Department to discuss and educate them on BBBSNWFL’s mentoring programs including its Bigs with Badges initiative; a unique one-to-one mentoring program to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and local youth.

    “We recognize the incredible impact that one positive, consistent, and caring role model can make in a young person's life if given the opportunity at the right times,” says Community Board Chair Rique Gwin. “We have analyzed the balance in our community and feel that our priority must be in recruiting adults who are willing to meet this need. This will require personal recruitment, publicity efforts, and building ties with community organizations that have interest in youth development.”

    Over 50 children in Okaloosa and Walton counties have been placed on the waiting list with the hopes of being matched to a Big Brother or Big Sister. The new community board is excited to grow the BBBSNWFL presence in Okaloosa and Walton counties by cultivating new relationships with local organizations, law enforcement, and city officials to recruit more volunteers within these communities.
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