Brookline, Amherst residents honored by Big Brothers Big Sisters

When 17-year-old Brandon Lajoie met his Big Brother for the first time three years ago, he had no idea how much having a mentor would change his life.

“He got me involved in activities that I never would have done or tried if it wasn’t for his support,” Lajoie said. “For example, this very motivated and athletic person who loves helping people got me involved with the Special Olympics, which made me who I am today.”

Earlier in June, Lajoie shared the impact that his Big Brother, Bob Purcell, has had on him with more than a hundred supporters at Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire’s annual volunteer appreciation dinner held at Nashua’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Purcell, of Amherst, was named Greater Nashua and Salem’s Big Brother of the Year. Sandra Chamberlain, of Brookline, was named Big Sister of the Year.

Also honored for their dedication and commitment to the organization were regional board members Morgan Hollis, Dave Hartsock and Rob Devita and corporate sponsor Bellavance Beverage.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire serves 1,300 children statewide, including more than 200 from its Greater Nashua and Salem office in downtown Nashua. Its mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better forever.

For Chamberlain’s Little Sister, Stephanie Dunklee, who presented her with the Big Sister of the Year Award, having a mentor for the last seven years has meant having a constant friend and companion to turn to when times are tough.

“My Big Sister is always nice to me, fun to be with and my friend,” Dunklee said. “She has taught me a lot of things.”

The dinner also highlighted the importance of the community organizations with which Big Brothers Big Sisters partners to offer venues for site-based mentoring programs. Throughout the year, hundreds of children meet with their Big Brothers and Big Sisters at after-school programs at the Nashua, Salem and Derry Boys & Girls clubs; Nashua’s Girls Inc. and Police Athletic Association Youth Safe Haven programs; the Greater Nashua YMCA; and 21st Century programs at Nashua’s Ledge Street, Mount Pleasant and Amherst Street elementary schools.

“Without these partners and the hundreds of volunteers who give their time every year, we could never do what we do,” said Melissa Goerbig, BBBSNH vice president of programs.

For more information about how you can make a difference in the life of a child as a mentor, donor or sponsor, call 883-4851 or visit

Slide into home plate for BBBSNH at Nashua’s Holman Stadium on Saturday, July 4, at its Revolution Run 5K/10K. To register, visit