SHERIDAN — Volunteering started at a young age for Katelynn and Quinton Brooks. The tight-knit siblings learned early in life that helping others wasn’t an option, but an opportunity.
The duo’s mother, Jeanne, a physical therapist in Sheridan, often dragged the two along to help with odd jobs while she worked the first aid tent at the Snickers Cup or at Hoop Jam.
“Our parents have always pushed, ‘What are you doing to serve others?’” Katelynn Brooks said.
Their mother, while persistent, taught them volunteering brings joy.
“Helping and serving is not drudgery, it’s fun,” Katelynn said. “And when we have happy hearts.”
The Brooks siblings’ happy hearts translated into early work of giving back to the community. Around first or second grade, Katelynn read to her brother’s preschool class. Both of the Brooks shared their love of baking with Sheridan, too. In fourth grade, Quinton raised $600 for the free clinic after convincing his entire class to prepare for and host bake sales at lunch for the cause. Katelynn and a friend baked and frosted more than 200 cookies often for those visiting the senior center at lunch.
The service came and still comes from hearts of gratitude for the gifts they’ve been given.
“When you’re serving others, it’s better because you feel better about what you’re doing,” Katelynn said. “It’s also just what we believed we’re called to do — to love God and to love people.”
Loving people now includes the siblings’ involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Sheridan. Katelynn started in 2015 and Quinton a year later. Both appreciate creating strong bonds with their matches.
“It’s been a really great opportunity to grow a relationship and invest in the kids’ lives,” Quinton said. “It’s pretty awesome that we’re able to have one individual Little so we can spend a lot of really quality time with them.”
Forming bonds with others proves difficult at times, though.
“Any relationship is not always easy. It requires time and work,” Katelynn said. “In the end, it’s so worth it. You may not feel like your relationship is growing very fast, but once it does it’s really cool.”
The experience the two siblings, along with their parents and younger brother, accumulated over the years showed them the benefit of learning about and loving others.
“When you volunteer and spend time with lots of different people, you realize we’re all the same,” Katelynn said. “We all want the same things — to be loved, to belong — and I think that’s really cool, just eye-opening. You become a more well-rounded person when you spend time with lots of people.”
Sandy Thiel, director of community engagement for Big Brothers Big Sisters, recognized the genuine nature of the Brooks and appreciates the impact they make on not only their Littles, but anywhere they go in Sheridan.
“It’s a family characteristic,” Thiel said. “They let you know that they care and they do 110 percent. That’s the kind of person we need in our community. That’s what makes good connections and good role models. That’s what Big Brothers Big Sisters is about.”
With hearts open to serving others, the Brooks siblings continue to volunteer for BBBS, influencing the community’s children with genuine personalities.