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Katie Orlando is inspired by the youth and mentors she matches

FREMONT — Of all the problems plaguing our world, Katie Orlando has put misguided youth at the top of her list.

The 31-year-old has dedicated her life to ensuring that today's youth have the mentors they need to succeed. 

And it seems she's found the perfect job to accomplish her mission.

Orlando is the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Manchester.

"We have great mentors and wonderful youth and families in our program, and I am inspired every day by the powerful impact our youth and mentors have on each other's lives and my own," she said.

She began working at the Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Manchester in April 2013 and since then has reduced the number of children on a waiting list, increased the number of enrolled "Bigs" and created a successful fundraising event, Fore the Children mini golf tournament.

"I absolutely love my job. I am very blessed," she said.

Orlando, who lives in Fremont but plans a move to Canterbury in February, is a former assistant director of residence life at the University of Maine Farmington and director of student affairs at Chester College of New England.

While she's received awards and recognition for her work over the years, Orlando said her last major achievement was when she helped save the lives of four suicidal college students while she was an adviser at Chester College and the University of Maine Farmington.

Working in higher education was rewarding, she said, but also had its challenges.

Some students she worked with had no support system in their lives and were not prepared for the independence that college allowed, she said. Working with those students was the most rewarding of all. 

"The reason why I chose the higher-ed field was because I wanted to make a difference to someone, and after my six years in the field, I made a difference to several. Nothing is more rewarding than getting a phone call, email, or office visit from a former student who is not just surviving, but thriving. It makes the work I do and the time I give to others worth it, and it empowers me to give even more of myself to help others," she said.

Orlando is a graduate of Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow and holds a bachelor's degree in history, political science and Latin American studies.

In addition to her work with youth, Orlando is vice president of Hooksett Kiwanis, a member of the Chester Lions Club, Jimmy Fund volunteer and marathon walker, Salvation Army bell ringer, Reach the Beach transition area captain, American Cancer Society volunteer, and co-adviser of the Manchester Central High School Key Club.

"I use a lot of creative ingenuity in scheduling out my days, making sure to squeeze every last minute I can out of my business day and lunch half-hour so that I have as much time in the evenings and weekends for my volunteer work and friends," she said.

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