Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Big Impact Group
As with most organizations, it is those on the “front lines” who offer the best testament to success. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas is no different. BBBS’ Big Brothers and Big Sisters provide the best evidence of the success of the program because they know, first-hand, the impact that mentors can have in children’s lives.
It just makes sense then, to put a group of Bigs together to serve as advocates for the agency and to help create a greater sense of connectivity among matches and with the community as a whole. The group is called B.I.G. – The Big Impact Group. It is made up of Bigs and other BBBS volunteers who are using their networking skills and resources to support BBBS’ mission. And this year, they are helping to make a BIG difference with BBBS’ Virtual Bowl for Kids event as well.
“A few years back, there were some individuals who were looking for different ways to engage with our agency. Although many were current or past Bigs, we had some folks who just loved and supported BBBS and who wanted to continue making a greater impact,” said Joe Strychalski, VP of Programs for BBBS.
“We launched the Big Impact Group in 2016 with about 12 members, and in that first year, they collectively gave/raised over $45,000, recruited over 50 new Bigs, and hosted 3 match engagement events. The B.I.G. is currently focused on Bowl for Kids with a goal of engaging a majority of the group’s members and collectively supporting at least 5 matches through a fundraising goal of $6,250 – and they’re currently the top fundraising group!”
“It’s great when those working with kids are also working to further BBBS’ mission,” said Jared Wynne, a Big Brother. “We’re able to supplement the great work BBBS does and to create new avenues for sharing the mission with the community.”
Jared, like other Bigs, has experienced the impact mentoring makes. “I saw the change in my Little’s life,” he said. “He was getting in trouble less at school, was more focused, and he was proud of these changes. That experience, and how positive it has been for us both, was a motivator to do more with BBBS. That led to being involved with the B.I.G.”
Austin Barrett was also motivated to get connected to the Big Impact group. “My dad was a Big Brother,” said Austin. “I was matched with a Little who is super, super into learning new stuff. We’ve gone to the Bullock Museum, and to the zoo. Whenever we go places, I get all kinds of facts and information on the ride home.”
When he found out about the B.I.G., he took the opportunity to get involved. “There is a big need in Central Texas for more kids to have a connection with a Big,” Austin said. “This group allows Bigs to expand our reach in the community – to get even more people to become Bigs.”
The group hopes to get even more people plugged in to BBBS’ Virtual Bowl for Kids event too. An event that has had to refocus due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 virus.
“Bowl for Kids is a super fun event,” said Nicholas Johnson, VP of the B.I.G. and a former Big Brother of the Year. “BBBS is doing a great job of adapting the event to today’s reality – including an online costume contest. But it doesn’t change BBBS’ ultimate goal of helping kids and families, and that’s what this event supports.”
“Kids still need mentors. A lot of the kids BBBS serves come from low-income families and their parents may be essential workers,” he added. “These kids may be at home while their parents are working, and they still need someone to reach out to during this time. BBBS’ mission is more important than ever.”
“The primary goal of the B.I.G. is to advance BBBS’ mission in unique ways,” said Shawn Bradley, a former Big Brother. “This is done primarily through recruitment, fundraising, and engagement, but the B.I.G. is ready to take on any challenge that the organization may need help addressing. The B.I.G. brings together a group of local professionals with diverse backgrounds and a real passion for helping our community’s youth.”
He is quick to add, “For anyone looking to give back to the community while also having a lot of fun and making lifelong friendships, B.I.G. is the group for you. While our number 1 priority is to push the mission of the organization forward by leveraging our unique skills and network, we all want to have fun doing it.”
“We have the opportunity with Bowl for Kids to have a good time, to give back to kids, and to engage others to participate, donate or to share the message that this is for kids and that it positively impacts our community,” said Austin. “If you want to help – join a Bowl for Kids team or donate to a team.”
The influence and achievements of the group cannot be overstated from a BBBS perspective. “I’m just blown away by this group of Bigs and BBBS supporters who believe so much in our mission that they continue to help us have an even bigger impact!” said Christina Snell, Director of Match Support and B.I.G. coordinator. “The resources, the energy, and the drive they bring to recruitment, fundraising, and engaging others is so inspiring to witness!”
“The B.I.G. provides a great opportunity to expand your network, meet great people, and help kids in our neighborhoods,” said Shawn. “The relationships I’ve been able to forge over the last 6 months have been amazing and I truly look forward to the great things this group will accomplish in the next 6, 12, 18 months.”
Group members are asked to make a personally meaningful financial contribution to the agency and a significant contribution to helping the group achieve its goals – whether through fundraising, recruitment, or supporting the group’s activities.
“Seeing the progress with my Little over the past two years together is the best argument that can be made for the mission of BBBS,” said Jared. “Those who volunteer and see it for themselves don’t have to be convinced. They’re in the middle of it. Helping others understand the effectiveness of the program and getting them to become a part of it is a great attractor to me. And it’s very gratifying to work with others who are so enthusiastic about BBBS’ mission.”
If you’re interested in joining the Big Impact Group, please contact Joe Strychalski at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.