Giving Back: Voting at BBBS
Since the plans were initially drawn up for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center over 5 years ago, the goal has always been to collaborate with the community by offering our building as an additional meeting and event space. Consequently, BBBS was excited to open our facility as a voting location for the 2020 election.
“We’re so very honored to provide this service and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the election voting process. We believe that it’s a meaningful way for BBBS to show up for our community at such a critical time,” said Brent Fields, BBBS CEO. “In doing so, our hope is that it creates more access for Travis County residents to exercise their right to vote and gives our staff the opportunity to give back to the community. It would be an added benefit if voters, while spending time at our facility, learn more about our mission, the impact we have in the community, and our need for more support.”
Almost 9,500 early voters have passed through BBBS’ location during early voting (as of this writing), offering convenience for the Mueller and east Austin neighborhoods. The location is one of 37 voting sites throughout the city. “It’s very accessible to people in Mueller, and people on Manor Road,” said Mary Williams, Early Voting Deputy. “But we have people coming from all areas to vote here.”
Mary explained that the early voting team has 8 people available to assist voters on each shift, with shifts from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The team consists of a deputy, assistant deputy, and clerks. “We’re fast, we’re good. I have a great staff,” said Mary. “They’re on point – everyone knows what they’re doing, so we’re able to get people in and out quickly. And the Big Brothers Big Sisters location is so nice.”
The voting connection with BBBS doesn’t stop at the building, however. Several of our BBBS matches have made the trip to vote at this location.
Big Brother Chris was introduced to his 14-year-old Little Brother Brayzon almost 5 years ago to the day. Who knew then, that in October 2020, Chris would be accompanying Brayzon to vote for the first time at our Big Brothers Big Sisters office?!
And they weren’t the only match to get in on the action. Other Bigs were also showing their Littles how to get involved in the community and modeling civic responsibility. Big Sister Janice and Little Sister Tyranee, who’ve been matched 13 years, also visited BBBS’ office to cast their votes.
“Loved it! What a great experience, and I’m glad my Big motivated me to vote,” said Tyranee. “I probably would never have voted otherwise. I’m sure I’m the first to vote in my family.”
“It felt great to watch my Little vote for the first time,” said Janice, “and at the actual site where it all started for us 13 years ago!”
The connection between a match’s beginning and this “right-of-passage” to adulthood for BBBS Littles brings BBBS’ connection to our kids and the community full circle. And with the great success of our participation as a voting location, it looks like this may be a recurring community partnership. One that will continue to impact our kids for years to come.