This week we are comin’ at you with an organization that is near and dear to my heart. Missouri Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters serves so many children in our community and I am lucky enough to be a part of it. A little less than a year ago I was matched with my Little. She is a bright, funny eight-year-old that I am lucky enough to spend time with each week. She is an energetic extension to our family and we couldn’t be happier.
Being a Big has taught my kids and I quite a few life lessons. My two boys are six and seven years old, so when our Little comes to play, they all have a great time together. One day, when she first came over, the boys brought her in the “toy room.” This is a disastrous room in our house! This is the room where you walk in and it looks like Christmas and birthdays threw up. Most of the time I shut the door and pretend it doesn’t exist because if I go in, anxiety comes over me in full force. If you have ever seen the episode of Friends where Chandler wants to know what Monica hides in the closet, then you have a very good idea of what this room looks like.
I digress. On this particular day, I realized how lucky, yet a little spoiled my kids were to be able to have a whole room dedicated to just toys. After about an hour of playing with everything, the boys asked our Little if they could go to her house one day and play in her toy room. With a very matter of fact reply, she told them she didn’t have any toys. When I heard this, I felt a little sick. Here is a girl with zero toys and my boys have a whole room full of toys, and most of them, they don’t even play with.
After our Little left that day, the boys came up to me and asked if they could find some toys to give her. Yes, of course! In about a half an hour they came back with a box over flowing with toys for our Little. This was just one of the many times I was grateful our Little came into our lives. She taught my kids, that not all kids have the same things and it’s important to be grateful for what you do have and give to those who don’t.
This week we are joined by Kelsey Schrimpf, Community Program Coordinator, from the Missouri Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters. This nonprofit agency has been providing services to the youth of Cole County since 1989. Currently, it serves over 250 children a year and has over 120 active matches, but there are many kids still waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister.
The mission of Missouri Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters is to make a positive difference in the lives of children and youth, through a professionally supported primarily one-to-one relationship with a caring and committed volunteer, and to assist them in achieving their highest potential as they grow to become more confident, competent, and caring individuals. Kelsey is going to tell us more about their organization, as well as, let us in on the big news about their national rebranding!
Q. What is your main focus or goal for this organization?
A. Our goal is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1 to 1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
Q. What has been the most rewarding so far?
A. The kids and the things they say, the way they say it, and how much mentoring means to them. One of our Littles, after seeing her mentor for the first time this school year, told her mentor, “You know those videos they show of military dads coming back and surprising their kids at school? That’s how I felt when I saw you.”
Also signing up new mentors who are just wanting to make a difference & give back to others for different reasons...maybe they've had a rich and full life and they feel blessed and want to give back; others had it rough as a kid and understand the challenges that kids face today and they just want to be there for them.
Q. What is one thing you wish people knew about the organization?
That they too can be a mentor. It's just about the gift of giving of themselves once per week and sharing the gifts that they have. They might not think that they have gifts, but they do...everyone does. Most of us can say that we have had people that have made a huge positive impact at one point or another in our lives...those folks truly made a difference. Maybe we didn't call them mentors, but that's what they were. And we need people to come forward and not be afraid to jump in and walk the walk with us in impacting a kid’s life for the better. We make a difference one child at a time, but it is a huge difference maker and life changer, not only for the child, but for the mentor as well. Everyone can do something.
If something prevents a person from mentoring, we truly understand, but there are other things that a person can do to support our efforts....Make a donation to our program because funds are critical for us to continue in our work; and if you know someone who would be a great mentor, share with them about the program and put them in touch with us.
Q. Who are your mentors?
A. They come from just about every walk of life, profession, age, etc. From upper teens to well into their 80's. Retired people, college students, engineers, attorneys, educators, health care workers, professionals within the state, those that stay at home… The one thing they have in common that ties them together is that they all care.
Q. When people are seeking to a give back to a non-profit, what should people be looking for?
A. Understanding the agency’s mission and results are key when giving of oneself or making a financial investment in a non-profit. At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we clearly define what a volunteer is expected to do. We want to ensure that there are no surprises and that volunteers have a positive experience when they decide to get involved. It is also important to make sure that an organization is using financial contributions efficiently, and for the intended purpose. We pride ourselves on being good stewards of charitable contributions. We are fortunate to operate as a sponsored program of the Jefferson City Area YMCA, enabling us to eliminate many costs associated with an independent agency. A gift to Big Brothers Big Sisters is going to directly benefit a child in need of a mentor.
Q. Nationally, BBBS rebranded. Why was rebranding needed?
A. Our mission is to serve youth by matching them in one-to-one relationships with caring adults, but over the past 10 years, the number of volunteers we have recruited and the number of youth we have served has been declining. The goal of this brand transformation is to:
Raise awareness of our vital mission.
Strengthen our Federation and each Affiliate.
Recruit more volunteers with an emphasis on men and specifically men of color.
Serve more children and increase positive outcomes by matching them with an adult who will empower them to reach their full potential.
Q. What is the symbolism in the new logo?
A. According to the national Big Brothers Big Sisters website, “The logo is a letterform that tells our story.”
The “B” is a powerful symbol of the real-life match. The lowercase b represents the story of the a Little and their parents or guardians aligning with the organization. The elements of the lowercase b stand as a powerful symbol, but does not tell the complete story.
With the addition of the Bigs, the equal parts create meaningful intersection. As the upper piece of the B is added, the relationship balances and become stronger and bigger.
Q. Why is your office excited about the rebranding?
I believe the energy created by the new branding will be most beneficial to our office. Having a new nationwide campaign to help showcase what Big Brothers Big Sisters does, and better communicates our role in helping to ignite, empower and defend potential in the children we serve is invaluable.
Q. What are you in need of?
A. Male mentors. Right now we have 38 children on our waiting list and another 26 children who have been identified as needing a mentor in their life. Three fourths of these children are male. Providing these young men with a positive male influence is important in helping them to achieve their greatest possible potential.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a proud United Way of Central Missouri member agency.
Thank you for reading and thank you to the staff at Big Brothers Big Sisters for your time invested in helping us with this post. Talk next week!
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