Press release from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina congratulates Joey Popp of Hendersonville, who this week was named Big Brother of the Year for North Carolina.
Popp was selected for his dedication to his Little Brother Andre, with whom he has been matched for nearly three years.
“It seems like much longer because of the many amazing experiences they have enjoyed,” said Jamye Davis, assistant director of BBBS of WNC. “They have been swimming, hiking, tried lobster, been to see plays at the local theater, been to local college basketball games, made peace signs and marched in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace March.”
Popp serves as chairman of the BBBS Henderson County Advisory Council and is also on the Board of Directors for BBBS of WNC. He has initiated new ideas and strategies that have strengthened the fundraising efforts and programs in Henderson County.
He has made significant personal gifts, has sold his prize hydrangea flowers at the farmer’s market to benefit the program, and worked significantly to dramatically increase the auction component of “A Taste of the Vineyard,” one of the branch’s annual fundraising events.
Popp organized a wine dinner at a local restaurant that raised $1,200. He recruits teams for Bowl for Kids’ Sake, an annual fundraiser for the branch held this year at Tarheel Lanes on March 7 (learn more at bbbswnc.org).
Last year Popp organized a yoga fundraiser at a fitness center and spearheaded a Major Gift Matching Challenge. Through all of this, he has brought the branch office back to financial stability and greatly increased BBBS’ presence in the community.
In a recent essay to BBBS of NC, Andre said his Big Brother has had a dramatic impact on his life.
“If I never had Joey for a Big Brother, then I would be a lot less active than I am right now,” Andre wrote. “I wouldn’t get to go to any of these cool places and see the things I get to see. He helps me with homework when I need it, and we’ve been to the library to work on my reading.
“I got to teach my Big Brother a science word when he was helping me with my homework. It was ‘inertia.’ One thing that I’ve learned from Joey is that new things are not that bad, like sushi.”
“Andre was failing science class and now, because of Joey, this has improved,” said Cora Robinson, his great-great aunt and caregiver. “All of Andre’s grades have improved, and he has started to understand how important school is. Andre has blossomed into a vibrant boy.”
Popp accompanies Andre to church functions, invites Andre to community events, and helps show Andre the world around him.