I am thankful for her, because she was a gift...a really great one!

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ volunteers are truly special people who commit time and emotion to youth who need friendship and support. These volunteers make the welfare of a child (outside of their family) a priority for their personal care and concern. Michelle Koraleski stands out even among these exceptional adults in our community. She and her Little Sister Parasia began their special friendship after being matched by BBBS in 2009. At the time, Parasia was just 7 years old.

Parasia lives in poverty with her mother and three siblings. While waiting for a new house to be constructed by Habitat for Humanity, their old house and all belongings were completely destroyed by fire. Thankfully, the family was not home and was unharmed. Unfortunately, however, Parasia’s beloved dog Coco perished.

Upon hearing news, Michelle immediately helped the family. Through her extensive network of family and friends, she asked for donations of household goods, clothing, food, bedding, toys, and furniture for Parasia’s family. She also reached out to BBBS of the Midlands and Habitat for Humanity to ensure that their “new house” would truly feel like home when completed. Michelle compiled and managed an itemized list of donations of everything the family needed to furnish their new house and replace what was lost. She even secured a gift certificate from the Humane Society so the children could get another dog.

Parasia’s mother Dorreen told BBBS that Michelle was her biggest supporter during this tragedy. Thanks to Michelle’s diligence, the family had everything they needed for their new home – including some picture books of Michelle and Parasian’s time together over the years. Michelle and her husband were present at the blessing of the new Habitat for Humanity home. It meant a lot to Dorreen, who says, “Michelle not only uplifts my daughter, but me as well.”

Michelle has been an exemplary Big Sister to Parasia in our community-based mentoring program. In 2012, she was named Big Sister of the Year for BBBS of the Midlands. When asked what her favorite thing about Michelle was, Parasia replied, “I never had anyone like her before. I feel like I’ve been around the world with her . . . If she wasn't in this world, we wouldn't have a good time. I am thankful for her because she was a gift . . . a really great one!”

Dorreen nominated Michelle for Big Sister of the Year:

I just wanted Big Brothers Big Sisters to know how I feel about Michelle. She is AWESOME. There is no way I could show my gratitude for all that she does. Being a single mother of four limits some of the things I can do. Michelle has so many different creative ideas that open my daughter’s mind. She is super supportive of both me and Parasia. Parasia and I can count on her to be at Christmas programs, recitals and soccer games. She listens to my daughter, and then they do things that enlighten her mind. I couldn’t possibly show how much we adore and love Michelle. I wish I could give her an award, because she certainly deserves it. There needs to be more Michelle’s in this world. Big Brothers Big Sisters has started a friendship that will last well into Parasia’s adult life.

Recently, Michelle became a member of the BBBS Board of Directors. She immediately went to work last spring helping to recruit bowling teams for our agency’s largest event fundraiser, Bowl for Kids’ Sake. She is currently using her extensive personal network to open doors for us at local companies to help us recruit additional volunteers and more resources for our program.

Michelle actively supports other local organizations as well. She has served on the Women’s Fund of Omaha Board of Directors and is a current member of the Board of Directors of Educate Uganda. She is a tutor at Boys Town Wegner Middle School and a classroom volunteer at Sacred Heart School.