March 2021

Hello Friend!

“525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year?” We’ve all heard this familiar quote from the Broadway production Rent. How would you answer this question about the past year? Would you measure it by how many new technology platforms you’ve had to learn? How many logins to Zoom that you’ve done? How many times you’ve heard the word “pivot”? Or how long it has been since you’ve seen a loved one?

What seemed like some temporary adjustments in our routines and goals at work to get to a safer, more manageable pandemic, is now marking one year. 525,600 minutes. We went from having an all-team in-person meeting on Monday, March 16 to me being the only one in the office on Tuesday, March 17.

This past year our team never gave up. We went from in-person interviewing, meet your new Big meetings, monthly hands-on activities to a virtual world. We went from planning a party for 600+ to an online auction and raffle. We went from being 3-dimensional to 2 or 1-dimensional. And through it all, we never lost sight of our brave kids whose lives were turned upside down, on top of the challenges they were already facing. Keeping our kids connected has been a moving target, and we’ve moved right along with it. Our Bigs have been pushed out of their comfort zones too. They have learned how to play games, tour museums, or create crafts digitally and to really hear the nuances of a text. And we couldn’t be more grateful to our Bigs. 

Our Board has been steady and strong – asking questions, offering suggestions, and encouraging guidance. I am so grateful to our Board. And I know through my 30+ years of board experience how exceptional our Board truly is.

Our generous donors have continued to be generous, understanding that our costs have increased and our efforts to make and support our matches have greatly increased. Our donors have been with us throughout the day, throughout the year. Thank you so much!

What about the next 525,600 minutes? How will you measure this next year? Maybe by supporting a program that matches your passion? Maybe in the number of times, you meet with your Little? There are endless opportunities to make a difference in the lives of kids. The clock is ticking ...

Jackie Johnson
Executive Director

Cheryl and Molly Hommerding got matched with their Little Sister Kaycee in June 2020. Cheryl decided to mentor with her daughter, Molly, thinking it’d be fun and make an impact on someone else’s life.

They quickly realized they had a lot in common with Kaycee and left the meeting excited for what was to come within their match. The three of them have gone for ice cream, played cards and video games, made cards for nursing home residents, and done a lot of baking. Baking is their favorite!

Kaycee is always excited for her Bigs to pick her up and comes running out to the car. Despite all the changes with COVID-19, Cheryl, Molly, and Kaycee have done a great job of connecting and building trust in their friendship! 

Jill Denkinger & Jaiden are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Jill Denkinger & Jaiden! The two of them are looking forward to going to coffee shops together and baking! 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.

Irv Cross served as Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota from 2006-2010. Cross had an enthusiastic passion for mentoring. During his time with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Cross was matched with a Little Brother, Travelle, for three years. His compassionate spirit and notoriety brought increased visibility to Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission and helped recruit many mentors for the program. 

In his autobiographical book, Bearing the Cross, Cross says, “The most fun I had with Big Brothers Big Sisters was playing with the Little Brother assigned to me, who was ten years old when I was seventy. Man, did he wear me out!” Upon learning of his Big Brother’s passing, former Little Brother Travelle states that Cross, “had a big impact on my life, was very inspiring, and a strong leader.” 

Former Big Brothers Big Sisters Board President John Schnettler shares, “Irv Cross was an amazing person with an incredible life story – athlete, trailblazer, sports broadcasting legend, humanitarian. In 2006, our search committee asked why this nationally acclaimed person wanted to commute from Roseville to serve as Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. Then Irv shared the story of how, after the death of his mother, his 5th-grade teacher changed the course of his life. She helped him set his sights on high goals.  Irv personally understood the power of mentorship and wanted to serve kids in Central Minnesota who needed a mentor. He did so with passion and humility. We are grateful for Irv’s contributions to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota and for his belief in the power of mentorship.”

Cross was a former NFL Pro Bowl cornerback and legendary broadcasting pioneer. He was the first African American sports analyst on national television when he worked for CBS Sports as an NFL analyst and commentator from 1971 to 1994. He anchored the Emmy-winning show “The NFL Today,” from its inception in 1975 through 1989. Cross also covered other sports, including the NBA, track and field, and gymnastics.

Fellow sports analyst, Brent Musburger, commented, “I’ve been around all kinds of people, from every walk of life. I don’t know that I could give you one person who was nicer than Irv Cross. He was a constant gentleman.”

While Executive Director at Big Brothers Big Sisters, he frequently spent his lunch breaks in downtown St. Cloud befriending a local homeless man. Among his many accomplishments, Cross will always be remembered for his big heart and humility.   

Cross died Sunday morning in Roseville, Minnesota. He was 81.

Cross is survived by his wife, Liz; four children, Susan, Lisa, Matthew, and Sarah; grandson Aiden; brothers Raymond, Teal, and Sam; and sisters Joan, Jackie, Julia, Pat, and Gwen.

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!

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 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!

This month’s Partner Spotlight goes to Coborn’s, Inc. Their commitment to youth in our community extends from local stores all the way to headquarters, it’s just who they are.

Providing BBBS with funding, volunteers, donations and so much more, Coborn’s has contributed to the foundation of our agency for decades. Thank you Coborn’s, for placing children and families in need as a top priority!  

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
From in store promotion to volunteers, Coborn's is in it for the kids!
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