PUBLISHED: 4:19 PM on Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Palin honors volunteers during reception
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Alaska

Courtesy photo
  Honoring Big Brothers Big Sisters' volunteers, Gov. Sarah Palin awards Juneau community program Bigs of the Year to John Parent and Teri Rasmussen, left, with with their little brother Ocean and his mom Leslie Istursis, right.
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin announced the 2007 Juneau Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year awards Tuesday night during a reception at the Governor's house. The awards were part of the annual celebration of community and school mentors of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Alaska. Winners of the agency's regional essay contest were also announced.

The Juneau Community Program Big of the Year award went to a couple match, John Parent and Teri Rasmussen. They have been Big Brother and Big Sister to 14 year old Ocean for more than two years. Parent is a software engineer for the State of Alaska and Rasmussen works at Microsystems.

The 2007 Juneau School Program Big of the Year award went to Wells Fargo executive Karen West. West has been a Big Sister for more than four years.

During the festivities at the Governor's House, BBBS executive director Marc Wheeler also presented awards to the two regional essay contest winners; Big Brother Ray Tsang of Juneau, and 9-year-old Little Sister Sarah from Ketchikan.

"This is one way we say thanks to all the volunteers who are having an impact on children's lives," Wheeler said. "We're grateful to Governor Palin for hosting this celebration."

Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year, John Parent and Teri Rasmussen have been matched with their 14 year-old Little Brother Ocean for over two years. The three of them have done a wide variety of activities including rock climbing, hiking Mt. Roberts, exploring the Glacier and working on some of Ocean's school projects together. John and Teri are an active, busy couple and their enthusiasm for outdoor activities has had a positive impact on Ocean, giving him even more confidence to get involved in athletic endeavors.

Big Sister of the Year, Karen West is matched with Little Sister Taylor. After four years in the BBBS School Program they recently transitioned to the Community Program. Meeting in the community gives them the opportunity for more variety in their activities. Karen has been a very consistent and dedicated volunteer throughout the years. She often travels in her job but doesn't let her busy schedule get in the way of her time with Taylor. Her comment when asked about being a Big Sister is that "it's the most fun I've ever had volunteering."

John, Teri and Karen are just three of the many outstanding Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Juneau and across Southeast Alaska. In 2006, BBBS of Southeast Alaska served 605 children across Southeast Alaska. The agency is working towards serving 1,000 children annually by 2010.