July 2021

Hello Friend!

When I was out of my 14-day quarantine in South Korea in May, I was taken by bus to the Express Bus Terminal at 7 am. Karl (my son) was working about 90 minutes away from where I was staying. He had made videos for me to know how to purchase tickets, use the subway, and look for my exit.
That all went well, and I made it to my stop without any issues. I had written directions from my Airbnb host; however, my lack of understanding of Korean street signage and Korean maps made for quite a challenge. I knew I was in the right neighborhood, but I wasn’t navigating to the right place. So, I stopped a woman who was walking towards me and asked her to help. She became my Hero #1 for the day. She took one of my suitcases and then she used my phone to communicate with my host and proceeded to figure out where I was staying.
We clunked along the cobblestone allies and sidewalks, and she walked me to the door of the building. The espresso coffee shop that I was looking for as a landmark no longer existed which added to my confusion. She assured me I was at the right place. I thanked her profusely and she went on her way.
I then went up three flights of stairs with everything that I had with me. I made it through the first locked door with the code that I was given, proving I was indeed at the right place. Then I got to my room and could not find any place to key in any type of code to open the door. My Airbnb host was not responding to me with my latest question. I kept looking to see where I could possibly enter a code, but there was nothing with numbers. I sat on the cold marble floor to plan my next steps. The soonest my son could be there would be in about eight hours.
I started to lug my stuff back down the steps to spend the day at a coffee shop when another person was coming up the steps. I asked if she could help me figure out how to key in my code. She went to the door and lifted up a panel and behind it were digital numbers. I punched in my code, shut the panel, and the door unlocked. Hero #2 helped open a door for me. ONLY through the kindness of strangers did I get into my room.
Remember those moments when someone was there for you when you needed them most? That is what we do. We walk with our kids. We help our kids open doors. Thank you for being a part of our life-changing mission and program. We can’t do it without you.

Jackie Johnson
Executive Director

There’s nothing more valuable than time, and providing it to someone in need can be life-changing, as in the case of Vince Mohs and Gary Marsden. After losing his father at a young age, Vince entered the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota program and was paired with Gary, a prominent businessman and Co-Founder/Chairman of Marco.

Vince’s relationship with his Big Brother Gary helped lead him on a similar path of success. Gary hired Vince after he graduated from St. Cloud Technical and Community College and served as a role model and mentor throughout Vince’s career at Marco. They remain close friends to this day.

Vince has paid it forward by sharing his talents and time with us as a member of the Board of Directors of BBBS and he and his wife, Lori have been a presenting sponsor of our gala for many years. This fall, Vince and Lori will be the presenting sponsor of our Big Thanks Social on October 7. This will be a wonderful event to thank our donors and volunteers! Please save the date and make plans to meet this incredible Match!

Thank you Vince & Lori and Gary & Jane for your unfailing commitment to this program and to other Littles like Vince whose potential you defend every day!

The Burns family (Hilary, Bryan, Addison, Caitlyn, and Alex) and Little Brother Keyvonte are one of our Big Family matches! They have been matched for a little over 3 years. 

The Burns’ and Keyvonte love to get out and be active, going to parks, playing soccer, playing board and card games, and eating meals together. Going to the YMCA is one of their favorite activities.  When they are there, they like to play basketball, swim and climbing on the rock wall! Keyvonte also likes going to support Alex at his soccer games and the Burns’ support Keyvonte at his basketball games! 

The Burns family and Keyvonte have also been involved in many of our BBBS activities such as our Holiday parties and Summer Picnics and we love to see how much fun they have together!
Burns family with Keyvonte.

Chelsey Meyer & Desiree are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Chelsey Meyer & Desiree! These two are excited to go and get ice cream and play mini-golf! 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.

Do you know someone who would make a great mentor?

We need YOUR help!!!
Big Brothers Big Sisters is looking for adult mentors (SCSU staff/faculty/alumni and local business professionals) to serve as mentors for Tech High School students by pairing them with a positive role model. These matches meet on the SCSU campus, twice a month on Wednesdays around noon, during the school year.
This program opens windows of opportunity for local youth by immersing them in the world of post-secondary education, helping them dream BIGGER, and navigating them on a positive path towards success. Please refer your friends/family/co-workers to BigDefenders.org or Email Tina or call her at 320.258.4537.

We are looking for "Sports Buddies" to spend a couple of days a month hanging out with kids who love sports. The program is looking to match "Bigs" who enjoy sports and being active with kids who also love sports. The Sports Buddies program would pair the Bigs and youth to do sports-related activities like playing sports, watching sporting events, going on outdoor adventures, and attending sports clinics.

The activities are pre-planned by Big Brothers Big Sisters. A schedule of the activities will be released with details and locations, and Big Brothers Big Sisters staff will be around to assist with the activities.

The program begins on July 1st, while signups to become a "Big" are underway now. Bigs and kids will spend 1-2 days a month together, generally on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Those interested in applying to be a "Big" can visit BigDefenders.org or contact Tina at 320-258-4537 and at SportsBuddies@BigDefenders.org.

Thanks to KNSI for reporting that our HS Big Sister and Tech High School junior, Nimo Abdi, will compete in the Distinguished Young Women of Minnesota State Finals for college scholarships and the chance to continue competing at the national level.

Nimo has been named Distinguished Young Woman of St. Joseph by the Distinguished Young Women of Minnesota scholarship organization. She will compete during the state competition this year for the title of 2022 Minnesota State representative; the competition’s finals program will be held at 7 p.m. on July 31st via Facebook Live. Nimo will perform spoken word poetry that she wrote herself as her talent during the contest.

Her interests include student council, Tech Equity Leadership, volunteering at St. Cloud Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters, WE ACT, Ted Talks Scholarships, and serving as a youth mentor.

High school students in the state contest will strive for college scholarships, and one student will go on to represent the state in the national finals. That competition will be held in Alabama in June 2022. All our best to Nimo - good luck, you'll be awesome!

Around Cloud Tutors service will be available during the summer for those who will be in summer school or want to brush up on a few subjects over the summer. 

Junior and Seniors who would like help with ACT Prep can also utilize this free service. There are also additional College and Career Advice sessions such as Essay Editing, College Application Assistance, and Trades & Skilled Worker Advising to name a few. Please click here for more information.
This month our Partner Spotlight continues to shine on CliftonLarsonAllen, (CLA) – we have more to share! CLA exists to create opportunities for clients, people, and communities through industry-focused wealth advisory, outsourcing, audit, tax, and consulting services.

We are proud to share they have been supporting BBBS for 20 years, but did you know they have been providing quality, service, and experience to privately held businesses, government entities and nonprofits for more than 60 years!?! Their promise is “to know you and help you” and they live up to that promise every time for BBBS. Check out the awesome bike donation they made to support kids in our program!  Learn more and get connected to CLA today. Thank you CLA, you are in the business of doing BIG things.

We are grateful to 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
Pictured from left to right: CLA – Kristin Schmidt, BBBS - Jackie Johnson and
Tina Johanning , CLA - Jasper Asplin and Anthony Ecklund
Khaldoun Ahmad, Jenna Binsfeld, Peggy Brown (DEI Officer), Debbie Clausen, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Patty Funk (Secretary), Jeff Gannon, Isaih Handy, Lee Hurd, Courtney Kunkel (Treasurer), Bill Martin-Chaffee, Vince Mohs, Emmanuel Oppong, Curran Poganski, Marie Primus, Luke Riordan, Rick Roehl (Vice Pres.),
Alex Schoephoerster (President), Christie Schulte and Vicky Welty (Past President)
Barb Anderson, 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, Peter Spaniol, Eric Stalboerger, Perian Stavrum, Mark Traut,
Joan Vincent, Bob Walter, Sue Wendt and Mike Ziemann