GLENHAVEN resident Leanne Pilkington has received the NSW Volunteer of the Year Award 2012 for her work with The SISTER2sister Program.
The 12-month mentoring program is for teenage girls from disadvantaged homes who are at risk or suffer from mental, sexual, physical and emotional abuse or neglect.
Ms Pilkington has been involved in the program for four years and is a team leader. "I thought it was time to give back to the community, not just financially but physically," she said.
She has mentored two "sisters", including Jaime Barn, now 18, from St Clair.
Jaime has alopecia, a hair loss condition, which impacted on her self-confidence and outlook on life.
"I had very low self-worth and no respect for anyone including myself," Jamie said.
"I was petrified, close minded and didn't want to meet new people or try new things."
Ms Pilkington said Jamie, who was 14 at the time, often had very dark thoughts.
After five months Jaime overdosed on pills and attempted to take her life.
"It was quite a horrifying and overwhelming experience, I just felt hopeless," Ms Pilkington said.
But with the help of the program and Ms Pilkington, Jaime worked through her challenges.
"Leanne wasn't just a mentor, she was my rock," Jaime said.
"She didn't just help me with the program, she helped me with my problems and always gave me realistic advice."
■ To be a Big or Little sister, visit lifechangingexperiences.org.