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Powering the Next Generation
Whether he is delivering reliable electricity or mentoring children through Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, Lonnie Grote always seems to be powering lives.
Lonnie has volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County for seven years. The organization connects children facing adversity with enduring role models and mentors.
“We play tennis, Frisbee, golf, go to the movies or just hang out,” Lonnie says about the boy he has mentored for the past five years. “It isn’t about what we’re doing; it’s more about just spending time together.”
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County matches children, called “Littles,” with a “Big,” a caring volunteer mentor, like Lonnie. The pair spends quality time together sharing interests, goals, and aspirations. Lonnie has been serving as a role model for his “Little” while also creating a lifelong friendship.
“My ‘Little’ doesn’t really have a father figure in his life, so I would say I am a strong male role model for him,” says Lonnie, who enjoys weekly visits with his “Little.” “We talk about everything from schoolwork to football to girls; just usual father and son-type conversations.”
Lonnie’s efforts have been recognized with an Exelon Energy for the Community Employee Volunteer Award. The awards program recognizes a select group of employees from Exelon and its family of companies Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO and Pepco subsidiaries, who have shown exceptional efforts towards their community.
Lonnie, a senior engineer for ComEd, won a Merit Award, which includes a $5,000 grant for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County. The money will help welcome five more children and mentors to the program.
“Without compassionate volunteers like Lonnie, our children would be facing a much different future,” says Leslie Coen, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County. “One caring adult can make a world of difference for one of our kids.”
Even with his busy work schedule, Lonnie says he always makes time to give back to an organization that has given him an opportunity to positively influence kids in his own community.
Lonnie recalls joining Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County when his mother requested that he give the gift of his time for Christmas. In the spirit of giving, he accepted her request and has been enjoying volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County ever since.