June 2021

Hello Friend!

I am back from visiting my son, Karl, in Seoul, South Korea. Seoul is over 6,000 miles away, and most of the time, it is not on the same day as MN. I’m sure that I’ll be processing this journey for quite some time, and in so many ways. I first had a 14-day quarantine and then I had 11 days to spend time with Karl and to explore and learn. I had vulnerable moments where the kindness of strangers got me to where I needed to go, figuratively and literally. I’m grateful to those who took time out of their day to try to understand my question so they could help me with a solution. While some were able to provide a quick answer, others stopped what they were doing to walk with me and show me.
I spent my weekdays journeying around Seoul during the day and catching up with Karl for dinner. One of my day trips was to Seoul Forest. This required a subway transfer. My first solo transfer. As I went further from what I had come to claim as my temporary home, and as the subway became packed with more and more people who did not look like me, I did start to have a bit of anxiety - asking myself - how did I get here? maybe I should catch the first subway back to my own neighborhood? what if something happened to me - who would know? how would I communicate what I needed? It made me think of the many immigrants, my ancestors included, who come to a new country to be with family, who don't know the new country’s language, either written or verbal. It made me think of the people who don't look like most of the people in their new home and what they might feel like as they try to get their questions answered. Inspired by others’ courage, I stepped off the subway and went exploring.
Thank you for your kindness to our kids. Your support of kids who may not look like you, whose families may not have English as their first language. Because of you, kids are able to have mentors to help provide another perspective to their questions. And because of you, our Littles have the courage to take their next steps.

Jackie Johnson
Executive Director

Meet our Little Brother of the Year – Henry! Henry has been matched with his Big Brother Tesfaye for the last year and a half. As a match they enjoy watching sports, going out to eat, and going to Top Golf. Henry is a senior and three sport athlete at ROCORI. After graduation he has plans to move out of state for college in the fall. Congratulations on your Little Brother of the Year award, Henry! You deserve it!
Henry with his Big Brother Tesfaye.
Little Brother of the Year – Henry.

Bruce Powlish & Brandon are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Bruce Powlish & Brandon! They both have sisters and love ice cream and tacos! 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.
We are proud to announce the recipients of the Federated Challenge Scholarship, which is exclusively available to youth involved with the program.
The Federated Challenge Scholarship, made possible by Federated Insurance and the Federated Challenge, awards eligible Big Brothers Big Sisters’ program participants who plan to continue their education in a non-four year post-secondary program at an accredited Minnesota school that is focused on apprenticeship, certificate, trade school, technical, or community college. The recipients of the Federated Challenge Scholarship are:
Patrick Thayer, a graduate of Apollo HS, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College for Generals/Graphic Arts
Brookelyn Schyma, a graduate of Foley HS,
will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College for Sonography
Kaylee Becker, a graduate
of Pierz Healy HS, will be attending Central Lakes College for Accounting
McKenna Gross, a graduate of Foley HS, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College for
Pre-Dental Hygiene
Abigail Graves-Petron, a graduate of Sauk Rapids-Rice HS, will be attending Alexandria Technical & Community College for Welding
Olivia Binsfeld, a graduate of Sartell HS, will be attending Hennepin Tech for EMT/Paramedic
Eric Symanietz, a graduate of MTS MN Connections Academy, will continue his studies at St. Cloud Technical & Community College for Computer Programming
Emily Schimnich, a graduate of MTS MN Connections Academy, will continue her studies at St. Cloud Technical & Community College for Dental Hygiene
Ethan Matvick, a graduate
of Foley HS, will continue his studies at St. Cloud Technical & Community College for Generals/Business Pathway
Trista Thell, a graduate of Foley HS, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College for Accounting
Joseph Skroch, a graduate of Foley HS, will continue his studies at St. Cloud Technical & Community College for Heating,
Air Conditioning & Refrigeration
Lainey Priglmeier, a graduate of Foley HS,
will be attending Central Lakes College for Videography

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’s Partner Spotlight goes to CliftonLarsonAllen, (CLA). We are proud to share they have been supporting BBBS for 20 years! Their focus on the youth of Central MN has taken many forms, from bowling teams to event sponsorships and everything in between!

This year they would like to help us spread the message that it costs $1,500 to support a Match for one year. Matches like Dori Meyer and Lorelei, who celebrated 5 years together on April 1! Our gratitude to CLA is especially fitting in this June issue of The Big Times, the last month of our fiscal year! Shout out to the accountants and auditors at CLA that help us build a strong foundation for youth! 

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
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