Big Brothers Big Sisters has an ambitious goal: to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-on-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
COVID-19 has added additional organizational challenges.
“This year has been one nobody could have predicted — a worldwide pandemic, racial inequality, social unrest,” says the organization’s CEO, Anne Pfeiffer. “Through it all, our Bigs have been there for their Littles with socially distant birthday celebrations, walks around their neighborhoods, and online gaming competitions. They’re helping them navigate the transition to online learning, providing emotional support, encouragement, and hope.”
Chad Lovins, the group’s philanthropy officer, says while all of us have felt the unprecedented stress of this pandemic, the young people his agency serves are likely to bear the heaviest burdens of trauma and economic fallout.
“Social restrictions are affecting their well-being and compounding the adversity that many of them already face daily,” Lovins says. “But when Littles have a Big who’s there for them — even if not face-to-face — it makes a huge difference. That’s why these one-to-one mentoring relationships are more important now than ever.”
The organization’s Match Support Specialists support these families via wellness calls, hot meals, food boxes, personal care items, computers, and other devices needed for virtual school. They also provide emotional support for overstretched parents, grandparents, and guardians.
Jeff Brown, a Big Brother volunteer, says he finds it rewarding to see his Little — Giovani — grow and flourish. “To be able to help a young man and guide him to a better future; there are no words I can put to that without getting too emotional,” Brown says. ‘’I love seeing aspects of his growth that I may have influenced.”
Giovani says his Big Brother has taught him a lot over the past six years. “He is a good teacher, a good listener and someone who explains things well. Jeff is very optimistic and has helped me to become a leader and to take responsibility.”
Lovins says the limitations placed on social gatherings led to the cancellation of special fundraising events scheduled for 2020. “As nearly half (49 percent ) of our annual funding is provided through special events, we have focused our efforts on increasing support through individual, corporate, and local foundation donations,” he explains. “In doing so, we have found many corporations and foundations have placed temporary holds on their charitable giving programs. Likewise, many individual donors have limited their gifts, or cannot donate, due to economic uncertainties and job loss.”
These losses in revenue directly impact services and operations. Lack of funding affects the number of mentoring matches that the organization can serve. Creating and supporting mentoring matches requires funding to cover the costs of volunteer background checks, screenings, and training programs. Also, funding is needed to sustain the professional match support staff that provides ongoing training, ensures safety, and tracks youth outcomes throughout each mentorship match’s lifetime.
What they need
- Toilet paper
- Disinfectant spray
- Hand soap
- Clorox wipes
- Dish soap
- Paper towels
- Canned/boxed food
- Laundry detergent
- Adult coloring books
- Shampoo, conditioner, body wash and deodorant
- Gift cards to local restaurants or stores
- Gas cards
You can drop off wish list items from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Big Brothers Big Sisters offices, 22 S. Jefferson St., Dayton (across from the RTA hub) or contact Chad Lovins at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other ways to help
- Big Brothers Big Sisters is always looking for adult volunteers. For more information or if you would like to volunteer, call (937) 220-6850. The website is www.bbbsmiamivalley.org
- Financial donations can be through the website: www.bbbsmiamivalley.org
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Meredith Moss writes about Dayton-area nonprofit organizations and their specific needs. If your group has a wish list it would like to share with our readers, contact Meredith: email@example.com.
Please include a daytime phone number and a photo that reflects your group’s mission.