MPC employees in the Catlettsburg, Kentucky, area have been making a difference in children’s lives for more than a decade, helping them reach their potential through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of the Tri-State. With 14 Big Brothers and Big Sisters from the refinery and one from the Marine group, BBBS volunteers devote time and talent toward enhancing the lives of Little Brothers and Little Sisters at Catlettsburg Elementary and Boyd County Middle School.
Jennifer Amiri was first matched with a child through Huntington-based BBBS of the Tri-State in 2015, but had begun serving on the BBBS Board the previous year. “I am passionate about improving children’s lives,” explains Amiri, a training specialist in the refinery’s Training and Development Department. “Supporting BBBS lets me ‘give back’ to my home state of West Virginia, too.”
Volunteers can choose from school- or community-based BBBS programs, with the latter bringing Bigs and Littles together outside school. “I think it’s good to start in the school-based program and decide if you want to switch to community-based, once you’ve been involved awhile,” notes Amiri.
Amiri’s Little is a first-grader named Rebecca, with whom she meets weekly at school. “When we first met, Rebecca was very quiet and shy; she really didn’t engage a lot,” notes Amiri, who met with two other Bigs in her department – Danielle Clifton and Jessica Fain – and came up with a solution. “Thinking it might help in socialization, we began to meet with our Littles at the same time – playing games, coloring, spelling or just talking,” says Amiri. “Rebecca began to blossom. She started telling us all about herself and what she likes to do.”
“Our Marathon volunteers are amazing Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Catlettsburg Elementary is very fortunate to have such great role models for our students,” says Guidance Counselor Kelly DeBorde. “They make a huge difference in the lives of their Littles, and I can’t emphasize enough how much we appreciate them.”
From walks and builds to cleanups and much more, MPC volunteers are often supported by their spouses. Yet for one special event, Amiri’s husband took the lead. Dr. Farzad Amiri, a physician at Cabell Huntington Hospital, spearheaded an event called Kids in White Coats. It gave BBBS Littles a chance to meet with surgeons, surgical trainees and other health-care providers to learn firsthand about careers in the medical profession.
“It was a fun event, but more importantly, it exposed the children to opportunities in the medical field,” says Amiri. “Children are our future, and anything we can do to make a difference in their lives is extremely important – and worth any amount of time and effort.”