February 2021

Hello Friend!

As we begin a new year, I find myself reflecting on what made me want to be a leader for a nonprofit organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters.
When I was young, I endured some obstacles that I believe led me to where I am today – serving kids in our community. Growing up, my dad was an alcoholic and there were many challenges that my mom and 11 older brothers and sisters were faced with, including running our family farm. Mom was our rock and we helped her in every way we could. My siblings tried to fill in the gaps for us younger kids. When I talk with them about it today, my siblings just brush it off saying, “I did what I thought I should do.” Well, what they thought they should do is what made it possible for my mom to manage our family and farm. I’ll never be able to thank them enough for being there for us and for their hard work, love and encouragement.
One of my favorite memories is sweet corn season. It was all-hands-on-deck as we went through the rows picking and bringing the piles of corn back to the wagon. My mom would make a five-gallon stockpot full of sweet corn and we would eat all of it. My record was eating six cobs for one meal. We sold sweet corn to purchase our school supplies, 25 cents for a dozen or five dozen for $1.
In addition to my big brothers and big sisters, there were also some adults who were there for us. I will always be grateful for them taking time out of their lives to be with us. Just showing up demonstrated that we mattered. The work I do today leading Big Brothers Big Sisters is my way to thank all of them and pay it forward.
I’m so grateful to say that I am one of those people who truly loves her job and the people I get to work with that share my passion for mentoring our youth. I can’t imagine working in any other industry and appreciate the investment in me to lead this organization – I can’t believe it has been almost 11 years already. Being around youth gives me great hope for the future.
Every day I see people pushing themselves out of their comfort zone because they are so passionate about what we do. Especially this past year. Going forward, we have BIG dreams and I’m confident that we have the team (staff, board, advisory council, donors and volunteers) to make those dreams happen. Being able to witness and hear so many success stories about our Bigs and Littles makes what I do every day empowering and extremely rewarding.
Thank you to all of you for making a difference in our kids’ lives and future. Let’s keep dreaming BIG and creating more success stories.

Jackie Johnson
Executive Director
Jackie’s Family Circa 2010, Photo Credit Michelle Shefveland

These two have only been matched a short time (almost two months!), but they sure started their friendship with a bang! Brad and Damin are matched in our school-based program and are meeting virtually every week.

The two spend time talking, working on school work, and really just building their friendship. They have found lots of things in common, like the outdoors and fishing, and have also learned about each other’s other hobbies and interests.

Brad has been a big supporter for Damin these past few months and Damin has learned to really count on Brad to listen to him. These two are eager to meet each other in person in the future and we are so excited to see where this friendship takes them! 

Isaac Milejczak & Orin are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Isaac Milejczak & Orin! They bonded over their love for fishing, hunting, and sports. They are excited to learn more about each other in future match meetings! 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.

Our 2021 BriAnna Kruzel Growing Up Big Award winner!

Shelby recently shared how her involvement with BBBS has impacted her life, "I think BBBS helped me to discover my gift for encouraging the younger generation. Getting loving one-on-one time with someone was huge to me, and later I wanted to be that person for someone else, which is why I became a Big myself in high school. From then on, I have been mentoring, and I know that I will be doing that until I go on to my home in Heaven."

Thank you for the incredible impact you have had in the community, Shelby!

Big Brothers Big Sisters recently received a $4,000 grant from the Women's Fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation to support our Dr. Potter Bigs on Campus Mentoring Initiative. We are grateful for their continued partnership and support of this initiative. 

Place your bids and stand with kids! 

Let's have some FUN April 2-9, 2021 bidding on some great items and supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. Since 1969, we have defended the potential of youth. You can be a part of it with your bids and donations!

  1. Have an item donation for the auction? Use this form to let us know and we will make arrangements for pick-up for you can drop it off at our office.
  2. Register for FREE for the online auction! We will send you friendly text reminders to let you know when the fun starts!
  3. Don't forget about THE BIG RAFFLE!! Tickets available soon by calling 320-253-1616!

This month’s Partner Spotlight goes to Anderson Trucking Service. For nearly 20 Years ATS has offered care and support to the youth served by BBBS!

Year after year their investment in the mission of BBBS affirms the powerful impact of the Mentor-Mentee relationship. Just this week, ATS employees got involved during National Mentor Month and learned more about what it means to become a Big. Plus, did you know that BBBS calls the former ATS building our home? Thank you ATS, you value helping others in need and it shows! 

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