April 2021

Hello Friend!

As you have seen in the news, we recently had three mass murders in public businesses, one as close as Buffalo, killing 19 people. Our country is experiencing an uptick in violence. Violence is about power, someone choosing to have power over someone else. The violence can be as brutal as mass murder and as subtle as a look. In my early career, I was taught the “one up, one down” theory. Oversimplified, it is described as you either have power or you don’t. Those that have the power want to keep it.

We can do better than this. We can do better than “you are the perpetrator, or you are the victim.” We can do better than being either the “haves” or the “have nots.” We have to do better. If not, we’ll continue to see hate crimes, mass murders, and oppression. We’ll keep living the “one up, one down” way of life, fracturing even further.

At times the violence and hate can be so overwhelming. I want to separate myself from it and tell myself I’m not a part of this. I want to yell out “SAFE” just as I did as a kid playing a game of tag so whoever was “it” couldn’t tag me. However, that isn’t going to do anything. And in these circumstances, those who are violent are joined with those who look the other way, calling “SAFE.” This leaves those without the power, the oppressed, having even less of an opportunity, less of a chance.

At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we know that kids who have trustworthy mentors are empowered. We know that when a volunteer steps forth to mentor a child, that both of their lives are changed, for the better, forever. We know that advocating for a child, showing them that they are worth an investment of time and resources, helps them to tap into their own strength and improve their self-esteem. We know that our work is urgent, it is critical. We know that we can’t do it without you, nor do we want to. Thank you for believing in giving kids of all types of backgrounds, circumstances, and races a fighting chance.

Jackie Johnson
Executive Director

Dan Weidner has been matched with his Little Brother Devin for nearly five years. Together they have spent time playing games, fishing, cooking, cross country skiing, biking, and much more. Dan has always encouraged Devin to be himself and supported Devin in sports, music, and theater. Dan and Devin continue to seek out new activities and spend time together regularly.
“I think that without Dan I would have a much worse attitude and I wouldn’t be the same person I am now ... I just know that I am happy to have him in my life.” -Little Brother Devin
Dan is the recipient of our Big Brother of the Year award! Please join us in congratulating him!!
Dan and Devin enjoying time together over their 5 year match.
Solange Baird has been matched with her Little Sister Olivia for 5 years. In their time together they have gone biking, swimming, camping, paddle boarding, out to eat, and so much more. Solange has always been focused on building Olivia up and over the years Olivia’s self-confidence has grown significantly! Solange and Olivia have lived just over an hour away from each other for most of their match. This distance has not stopped them from continuing their friendship and seeing each other regularly.
“Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters has been the most rewarding experience of my life. I could not ask for a better Little ... I am so proud to be part of this organization and to be a Defender of Potential.”
Solange is the recipient of our Big Sister of the Year award! Please join us in congratulating her!!
Solange and Olivia spending time together during their 5 year match.

Paige Hanson & Addy are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Paige Hanson & Addy! These two are looking forward to getting to know each other and will be hitting the bowling lanes! As you are considering being a Big, check out our current list of new Matches.

We would also like to congratulate these Matches who are celebrating milestone anniversaries! We ask all Bigs to commit to at least one year of mentorship - that one year of consistency makes a BIG difference in the life of a child.

Browse, bid and buy! The Big Auction is open for bids! Our fantastic committee has put together an amazing auction with a wide range of items and services! Check out these great items:
Filipino Five Course Meal for Six, provided by John Hoffman and Cristina Gantinao. Invite five of your friends over for a delicious Filipino meal. What could be easier entertaining? John and Cristina will deliver this wonderful culinary meal to your home (15-mile radius of St. Cloud). You provide the space and beverages.
This Frigidaire 21.5" Stainless Steel Wine Cooler holds up to 38 wine bottles for maximum storage of your favorite wines. Store red, white, and sparkling wines separately to ensure each is kept at the appropriate temperature for maximum taste. Donated By M&H Appliance
Gather the fam and enjoy a variety of streaming options with this Apple TV HD, 32 GB, 4th Gen! Enjoy content from iTunes and apps like Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Hulu, and Netflix-or use the Siri Remote to find just what you want. And you can enjoy all your favorite content on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Donated By Geo-Comm
THE BIG RAFFLE IS SOLD OUT!!  Watch Facebook Live at the close of The Big Auction on Friday, April 9 at 8:00 pm to see if YOU WON! 

Around Cloud Tutors is an online service, providing tutoring to St. Cloud area students at no charge. K-12 students and their parents may now sign-up at www.aroundcloudtutors.org for a one-on-one, 30-minute session covering math, reading, social studies, English/language arts, Spanish, and career and college advising. Sign up your child today or help to spread the news!

Jaeger Johnson recently graduated from SCTCC with his Automotive Technician Diploma. They didn't have a winter commencement but he did have a chance to celebrate with his family and sent this pic. Jaeger, is a Federated Challenge Scholarship Recipient.

"What I have to say about the program is without this program I would not be the man I am today. This scholarship allowed me to go to college to achieve my dream of being a mechanic, and this program allowed me to have a positive role model that encouraged me to be the best I could be and to chase after my dream no matter how hard it can be."

Jaeger was matched with Bruce Latterell for 3 years and we couldn't be more proud of his success! And we are grateful to Federated Insurance for their support of the Federated Challenge and Scholarship program.
This month’s Partner Spotlight goes to an incredible group of corporate philanthropists. Led by Luke Riordan, DAYTA Founder/CEO and BBBS Board Member, they have collectively raised $10,000. Luke came up with a creative approach that has turned an ordinary raffle ticket campaign into the ultimate goal of raising funds AND recruiting Bigs. Their willingness to participate in this new idea will elevate the visibility and reach of the BBBS mission making it possible to reach more kids in Central MN.

We are grateful for all our Community Partners. Check out this list and the next time you are at that business or organization, please thank them for standing with kids!
If you are interested in serving on an event or sponsorship committee or have questions about it contact Emily Steinmetz at 320-258-4515 or Emily@BigDefenders.org
Jenna Binsfeld, Peggy Brown, Debbie Clausen, Kevin Fitzpatrick (Treasurer), Patty Funk, Jeff Gannon, Lee Hurd, Courtney Kunkel, Bill Martin-Chaffee, Vince Mohs, Curran Poganski, Marie Primus
(Past President), Luke Riordan, Rick Roehl, Alex Schoephoerster (Vice Pres.), Christie Schulte,
Peter Spaniol (Secretary), Vicky Welty (President)
Barb Anderson, Scott Bement, Mimi Bitzan, Mark Coborn, Joe Francis, Brad Goskowicz, Keith Julson,
Shelly Bauerly Kopel, Gary Marsden, Karla Myres, Steve Sauer, Kurt Scepaniak, Joyce Schlough,
John Schnettler, Rob Schumann, Eric Stalboerger, Perian Stavrum, Mark Traut, Joan Vincent,
Bob Walter, Don Watkins, Sue Wendt, Mike Ziemann