Team huddles together before group game

The power of ‘yes’

Baker Tilly Wishes winners Tim Sutton and Bill Nesbitt became coach and mentor in their communities – and ignited their passion for giving back. Two team members share stories of the fulfillment they received from their volunteer work with the Special Olympics and Cray Youth and Family Services.  

A shared love of the game

A shared love of the game

Public Sector Director Tim Sutton has two passions: sports and making a difference in other people’s lives. Through volunteering, Tim has found a way to live out both while helping others pursue their passions as well.  

In high school, while competing on football, basketball and baseball teams, Tim also volunteered with a special education teacher, helping around the classroom and forming bonds with other students. Years later while in college, he received a call from that teacher, informing him that she had entered his name as the next basketball coach for the Washington Township Special Olympics, and that saying no wasn’t really an option. 

“Looking back, that was one of the most magical phone calls of my life,” said Tim. “I never expected to get the opportunity to make such a big difference by doing what I love.” 

As a Special Olympics coach, Tim has worked with the same group of athletes for 21 years, starting when they were just 12 years old. For many of them, Tim is more than just a basketball coach. Basketball also provides a chance to build social skills and lasting relationships.   

“I’m a mentor, older brother, best friend and father figure for some of these kids,” said Tim. “It's such a special thing to be involved with.” 

Out on the court, games get competitive, but participation is just as important as winning —everyone gets a chance to play and score a basket during the game.  

“We’re there to have fun and if we’re not having fun, we shouldn’t be doing it,” said Tim. “The athletes care about each other's success. Just making a shot is like winning the Super Bowl to them.”  

Asking the right questions

Asking the right questions

In 2008, Bill Nesbitt, consulting director, was helping his church get involved in the community, but the congregation was unsure of how to get started. Bill reached out to Cray Youth and Family Services, an organization serving children and families who are experiencing challenges at home, in school or in the community.  

“We wanted to learn what issues were the most urgent, and ultimately our solution was to ask someone at Cray, ‘What do you need us to do?’” Bill said.  

The organization asked them to participate in their mentoring program — where young boys and girls are paired with mentors to support the development of social and emotional skills. 

“At first I wasn’t sure I would have the time,” Bill said. “But with every event I’m part of, it's like the whole world stops and I forget everything else that’s going on – I'm so thankful to be a part of it.” 

Bill, along with volunteers within the congregation, plans dinners and events with mentees twice a month. The events allow for one-on-one time with mentors as well as group activities that include scavenger hunts, art fairs and visits to trampoline parks. The group also participates in community service and educational activities like park clean-ups and visits to local colleges and businesses. 

“We realized with these events, that if the kids are having fun, they’ll come back,” Bill said. “There’s a girl that came from a family that experienced many hardships, and her mentor helped her get into community college — now she's on her way to becoming a licensed nurse. The more good things you can introduce into kids' lives, the better.”