Susan Helm Smith of Owings Mills, has volunteered in...


April 11, 1993

Susan Helm Smith of Owings Mills, has volunteered in Carroll County with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Maryland since 1990.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters matches volunteers with children in single-parent families to provide a beneficial continuing

relationship with an adult outside the family.

Ms. Smith is a Big Sister to Amy Cook, 14, of Westminster.

Organization's comments: Ms. Smith and Ms. Cook have "an excellent relationship," said Robin Tomechko, program manager with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Maryland. "The mother just calls [Ms. Smith] a godsend."

In addition to the usual trials of adolescence, Amy has had to cope with family illness.

"The Big Sister has just been wonderful in helping the family deal with that," Ms. Tomechko said. She said Ms. Smith has been very consistent, and has helped reinforce the mother's discipline.

Volunteer's comments: "I got started in Big Brothers and Big Sisters when I became an empty-nester," Ms. Smith said. "I like kids."

She likes working one-on-one with young people but does not have time to be a foster parent, she said.

"I've tried to do a lot of different things" with Amy, Ms. Smith said.

The two have been to Pony Penning Day in Chincoteague, Va., to the opera and to the symphony, she said.

A "horse person" since she can remember, Ms. Smith taught Amy to ride.

"It gave her a lot of confidence in herself that she didn't have before. I do whatever I can. Call me 'a friend of the family.' "

She said she does not compete with Amy's mother, but brings a different sort of relationship to the mix. Once, Ms. Smith, Amy and Amy's mother went to Ocean City for a weekend with friends.

"Being a Big Sister doesn't mean supplanting the mother," she said.

Ms. Smith said she gets more out of the relationship than her Little Sister does. "It's a really exciting process" to watch a young girl grow up, she said. "Teens are beginning adults, and they're neat people in their own right."

For people who like working with teens or older children, "I can't ++ think of a more rewarding way to go," she said.

Volunteer's background: Ms. Smith, 51, has a daughter at Clemson University. After teaching Spanish and Latin in Baltimore County schools for 20 years, Ms. Smith works for the Frederick County school system and the State Department of Education. She is a curriculum specialist in foreign languages and English as a second language.

To nominate someone as Volunteer of the Week, call 751-7900 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Nominations may be faxed to 751-7916.

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