Big Thoughts

Volunteers of the Year 2023

Think Big for Kids is continuing to expand our reach and impact more kids year after year. We are thrilled with the success stories of our middle school, high school, and postsecondary students, and that success is due not only to the work of our Think Big team, but the numerous hours that our 250+ volunteers dedicate to our programs. This year, we want to recognize the hard work and effort from four of our dedicated volunteers who we are proud to name our Volunteers of the Year 2023!

Saxon Baum

Saxon’s energy and dedication to our mission has led him to get involved in numerous areas of our organization. He is the leader of the True North Society, our young professionals’ group, and he has spearheaded the growth of the group to help mobilize more volunteers in the Tampa area. Under his leadership, the True North events team for Chips for Charity has already raised over $70,000 towards the True North Passion Scholarship. Additionally, Saxon has participated in Think Big Career Showcases on behalf of Florida Funders, engaging kids in a “Shark Tank”-like activity to encourage entrepreneurship. Saxon’s time and effort is making an impact from many different angles!  Thank you!

Karen Smreker

Karen’s love for our kids has led to continued involvement in our programs since 2019! She was a favorite Career Showcase presenter on behalf of one of our partner companies, and then decided to volunteer with Think Big as a Career Showcase host at Sligh Middle Boys & Girls Club. Her students at Sligh LOVE her, and they are always excited for Think Big days! Karen’s passion for our mission has also led her to join the True North Society Board and is part of the events committee who is planning the Chips for Charity fundraiser. We simply cannot say enough good things about Karen – she will say yes to any of our requests with a big smile on her face. Our students and everyone at Think Big is grateful for your hard work, Karen!

Eric Spaulding

Eric’s desire to help students find their passion stems from his own pastIt took him some time to decide what he wanted to do and was fortunate to find a great career in cybersecurityHe was paired with his mentee Quentin in late 2020.  Quentin’s ultimate dream is to play in the NBA, which we all hope he attains, and Eric is helping him explore his plan B options including sports medicine and cybersecurityEric jumps at any resources that we have to offer and encourages Quentin to take advantage of every one that comes his wayQuentin shared, “Eric has offered me practical advice for my academic career, including how to approach teachers to discuss improving my grades.  Eric is such a great supporter of Think Big and our mission, and he is always there with a big smile!  Thank you, Eric for all that you do!


Yvette Clayton

Yvette’s day job is helping students find success and she so selflessly volunteers her free time to work with two of our amazing students.  Our Think Big team is very deliberate when matching our mentees with the right mentor, and when we met Lele in 2022, she was 22 years old and was trying to piecemeal her life plans togetherShe needed solid and attainable goals instead of trying to make ends meet while facing possible homelessnessShe was eager to get a Think Big mentor to help her on this pathOur thoughts immediately went to YvetteAlthough she already had an active mentor relationship with one of our recent high school graduates, she didn’t even hesitate to say yesThere have been some twists and turns and while nothing has been easy for Lele, she has almost completed her schooling through Year UP, an organization that we were able to connect her to, and Yvette has been that calm and consistent adult in her life helping her navigate and make her way towards independence.  Thank you, Yvette, you are always such a great connector and advocate for us! 

thank you

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