May 2021

Hello Friend!

I am writing this before I leave on a trip to Seoul, South Korea, at the end of April to visit our son, Karl, who has lived there since December 2019. My husband, Kevin and I adopted Karl from South Korea 25 years ago.

In preparation for the trip, I have had to learn about the requirements for visiting South Korea. Such as, I need to have a specific COVID test within the outlined timeframe before I get on the plane. Upon arrival, after what looks like an obstacle course of paperwork and requirements, I will then be taken to a government facility to quarantine for 14 days. Food will be brought to my door, and I’ll have a daily health check. I have a plan sketched out for how I’m going to spend my time, wanting to make the most of it and fulfill the requirements. I have been preparing myself, even though I know that I need to experience it to know how it will all work out. Yes, it is strict, and I am a self-invited guest.
 
When I think about being in South Korea, I wonder what it will feel like to look very different than most people. How will it feel to not understand their verbal or written language? Will I unknowingly be offensive or worse yet, illegal? How will I be vulnerable? How will my experience differ from the culture that I have only learned about, in the comfort of my home? I’m open to learning and experiencing, at least to some degree, what it might be like for some of our kids, and my own son. For their families who immigrated here. For those who don’t speak the dominant language. For those who don’t blend in with the majority of our country, whether by skin color, social status, disability, etc. Will I better understand my son’s experiences in Minnesota by being with him in South Korea? To all of these questions I say, I don’t know, but I’m willing to try and learn.
 
I look forward to the journey and sharing my story with you when I return. Thank you for standing with our kids! 

Jackie Johnson
Executive Director
HIGH SCHOOL BIGS OF THE YEAR:
EMILY SADLOVSKY & TRISTAN RUDOLPH

Emily Sadlovsky has been matched with her Little Sister Sapphier since April 2019 in our school-based program. They enjoy doing a variety of activities together like yoga, gymnastics, playing games, and making friendship bracelets. You will always find these two laughing and smiling during their time together. Over the course of their match Sapphier has grown in her self-confidence. Both Emily and Sapphier have benefited from the friendship they have formed. Emily is the recipient of the 2021 Central Minnesota High School Big Sister of the Year and 2021 Minnesota State High School Big Sister of the Year Awards! Congratulations Emily and thank you for your positive impact, leadership, and being an amazing Big Sister. 
Sapphier & Emily
Tristan Rudolph and his Little Brother Gavin have been matched for 3 years in our school-based program. Together they enjoy playing football, baseball, basketball, and board games. Tristan has role modeled respect, determination, academic encouragement, and positivity to Gavin. Gavin has grown in his aspirations for the future through their match.

Tristan shares, “The experience of being in the Big Brother Big Sisters program has been a remarkable one, with many memories and moments of personal growth. The BBBS program taught me many lessons and really opened my eyes as to how both the Little and the Big can grow as people, together.”

Tristan is the recipient of the 2021 Central Minnesota High School Big Brother of the Year and 2021 Minnesota State High School Big Brother of the Year Awards. Please join us in congratulating Tristan! 
Tristan & Gavin

Nimo Abdi & Makali are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Nimo Abdi & Makali! They both love Demi Lavato and reading! 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.
2021 BIGS OF THE YEAR ANNOUNCED

We annually recognize volunteers who go above and beyond in their role as a mentor. The following mentors were selected to receive an award for the significant impact they’ve had on their “Little”/mentee and their advocacy of the mentoring program.

  • 2021 Central Minnesota Big Brother of the Year: Dan Weidner, St. Joseph, mentor for 5 years
  • 2021 Central Minnesota Big Sister of the Year: Solange Baird, Robbinsdale, mentor for 5 years
  • 2021 Central Minnesota Big Couple of the Year: Erin Bitzan and Eamon Walsh, St. Cloud, mentors for 6 years
  • 2021 Central Minnesota High School Big Brother of the Year: Tristan Rudolph, Foley High School, mentor for 3 years
  • 2021 Central Minnesota High School Big Sister of the Year: Emily Sadlovsky, Pierz Healy High School, mentor for 2 years
 
Local mentor candidates represent Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota in the statewide competition. The state selects one outstanding mentor in each category to represent Minnesota in a national competition. In addition to receiving the local title, two mentors from the St. Cloud agency were honored with the statewide title:
 
  • Tristan Rudolph was selected as 2021 Minnesota State High School Big Brother of the Year
  • Emily Sadlovsky was selected as 2021 Minnesota State High School Big Sister of the Year
 
Program Director, Ann Matvick, states, “We are honored to have these exemplary volunteers represent our program. They’ve had an extraordinary impact on the lives of their Littles and are a true asset to the Central Minnesota community.”
WELCOME BECKY WILLIAMS, NEW EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT

There's a new face at the front desk and a new position for BBBS, Executive Assistant. Becky Williams joined the BBBS staff on March 15. She and her husband, Dave, have four kids and says that she wanted to work with BBBS because as a parent, she has experienced the significant impact that caring adults (outside of family) have had on their children. Teachers, mentors, coaches, youth directors, and countless others have stepped into their children's lives and impacted them on deep and meaningful levels. Their youngest child, Chase, was a "Little" in both the school-based program and the community-based program and watched him grow leaps and bounds in his self-confidence and determination.

Becky shares, "I am excited to be working here in this specific time and space. I am inspired by all the work that has been done already and all the work that lies ahead of us as we continue to work together to meet kids where they are and match supporting, caring individuals, couples, or families as we stand together for kids. Never underestimate the power you have within you to change someone's life for an hour, a day, a year, or a lifetime."
THANK YOU, MUSKIES, INC.!

Muskies, Inc. has been hosting the Fishing with Muskies, Inc. match activity for BBBS since 2004! It has been a favorite with our matches ever since!

This past Saturday was no exception. It was a beautiful day for fishing and Muskies, Inc. provided all the gear for our matches. Our matches didn't have the best luck with fishing, as the group caught zero fish, but there were a lot of smiles and everyone had a great time.

This event was the first time several of these matches have met in person and we had lots of happy Bigs, Littles, and families at the event. We are already looking forward to doing this activity again next year!
Matches enjoying a Saturday of fishing with Muskies, Inc.
AROUND CLOUD TUTORS AVAILABLE THIS SUMMER!

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.
THANK YOU, TKI!
 
This month’s Partner Spotlight goes to our newest community partner – Tom Kraemer, Inc. (TKI). TKI provides roll-off dumpsters, portable storage and public drop-off and recycling. The entire BBBS family would like to publicly congratulate Tim Kraemer on being one of the St. Cloud Times’ "5 Under 40" winners. TKI, located in Cold Spring, is part of the 5 county BBBS service area. When Tim learned that a Little was waiting for a Big right in Cold Spring he did not hesitate to get involved. TKI was one of five companies that purchased 200 raffle tickets for their employees and customers, helping us surpass our raffle goal! Thank you Tim and TKI for your support, we look forward to all we will accomplish together for the youth of Central MN! 

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
Tim Kraemer 5 Under 40. Photo by Dave Schwarz, St. Cloud Times.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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)
ADVISORY COUNCIL
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