December 2020

Hello Friend-

During this traditional time of gratitude and gifts, I want to extend our deepest appreciation for everyone who has been standing with us, especially since March, when the families & kids in our program began to face new, unparalleled hardships, with racial unrest becoming more prominent in May. Your challenges were piled on too, and you still made the decision to help kids. You are appreciated!

Because of you, we have been able to reimagine what mentoring looks like while continuing to ignite the power and promise of youth in our community. Our team has acted swiftly to adapt our program to the current environment. Our Program Coordinators have been busy collecting and distributing games, learning tools, and resources to help parents and Bigs support youth and navigate these uncharted waters. To ensure our mentoring matches are still able to have safe, meaningful interactions, our team has incorporated new technology and several formats of video communications. We all know some of our best conversations have taken place over a cup of hot cocoa and a board game. This still happens, it just might be virtual now.

When kids know that someone believes in them, that builds trust. When they start to trust someone else, it helps them to believe in themselves. They take more chances. They push themselves. They build their confidence. In fact, their brain chemistry changes, and their brains are literally rewired. They start to think, “I can,” “I’ll try,” “I matter.” Trust is a gift that will live on in our kids, it is a gift they will give others. And it’s because of you, your generosity, and your belief in kids. There may be a lot of uncertainties in our world right now, but your commitment to our kids is strong and steady, and for that, we are extremely grateful!  


Jackie Johnson
Executive Director
MEET KAYLA BRAUN & MARIA!

Kayla Braun and Maria have been matched for eight months in our school-based program. Though they were matched right as schools closed last spring, this hasn’t slowed them down from staying in contact and building their friendship. Kayla and Maria became instant pen pals; writing letters and sharing their love of art and drawings with one another.

While meeting over video calls, they enjoy talking, making bracelets, being creative, and completing at home scavenger hunts! You can always find these two having fun together with any activity they participate in. We look forward to continuing to see your friendship grow! 

Ava Swart and Jaelyn are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Ava Swart and Jaelyn! They found out they both like to ice skate and are super excited to find someone who loves to skate as much as they do! They both like to be active and are looking forward to also checking out the YMCA! 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.

Brad was a Little Brother in our program from 1995 to 2005. He grew up without a father figure, which he says, "was tough" and Brad was the youngest of four children. Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Stearns County Sherriff's Explorer program provided him with multiple mentors.

When asked how BBBS has impacted his life, Brad shared that having a Big Brother "filled a void. Ranji not only showed me how to be a hard worker, but role modeled a true man I aspired to be. The program created a mentor well beyond childhood by creating a friend who I still maintain contact with."

As a Minnesota State Patrol Officer, Brad has stuffed animals ready to give to children who are in a difficult or traumatic incident. He also has extra car seats if he comes in contact with a family in need to safely secure their child in their car. He does this of his own volition.

Our vision is that all youth achieve their full potential. Bigs like Ranji stand with Littles like Brad to make that vision a reality. Potential defended.
THANK YOU FOR GOING BIG!

Thanks to all the teams and donors who participated in our October Go Big for Kids' Sake. With your help we raised just over $26,000, but we have a ways to go to reach our goal of $34,000. You can help us reach our fundraising goal, donate here!

If you missed our YouTube and Facebook Live Celebration, you can view it here.

Even though our October Go Big for Kids' Sake event is over, you can still GO BIG all year long! Go Big for Kids' Sake is a fun and easy way for you and your company, friends, or family to support the life-changing work of Big Brothers Big Sisters. You could walk around your neighborhood, shovel snow for a senior or do a Zoom trivia night - whatever you choose to have fun and raise funds for kids! Register today! Contact Julie Schmidt at Julie@BigDefenders.org or 320-258-4511 with any questions. 
GO BIG FOR KIDS' SAKE IS PRESENTED BY:
URGENT: BIGS NEEDED NOW!

As the nation navigates its way through crisis, we are all feeling the toll of the unknown. The kids served through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program are no different. Now, more than ever, they need the friendship & support of a caring mentor. Our mission is CRITICAL- join us!

We especially need Bigs for our school and site based program. Visitors are currently not allowed in the schools- but you can meet with your Little before, after or during school through your device online. Your consistent friendship will mean the world to a Little who is living with so much unknown!

The first step is to let us know you're interested and we will take it from there, visit www.BigDefenders.org to learn more or contact Tina@BigDefenders.org!
Our online store is now open so you can order Big Brothers Big Sisters shirts, sweatshirts and swag! To see new colors, you'll need to click on the item and then you'll see color options (like the black fan tee also now comes in white).

STORE CLOSES ON DECEMBER 7!

Your items will be delivered 4-6 weeks after the store closes.
If you do not choose the ship to you option, your order will come to our office
at 203 Cooper Ave N. St Cloud, and we will let you know when you can pick it up.
For questions please email Tina at tina@bigdefenders.org.
THANK YOU MINNESOTA TRUCK HEADQUARTERS - YourMTH!

This month our Partner Spotlight goes to MTH! This inspiring family owned, and operated business has touched countless lives (veterans, kids and fur babies to name a few!) through their generosity and commitment to community.

We are so proud to have participated in the Race for 300 Charity Event which raised $11,400 for BBBS. Please check out their website when you are looking for your next vehicle. Thank you MTH for warmly welcoming us into the MTH Nation! We couldn’t be prouder to stand with you to defend the potential of kids in Central MN! 

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
Left to right: Mat Jordet (Marketing/Brand Manager & Dealer Principal), Vicky Welty (BBBS President), Jackie Johnson (BBBS Executive Director), Mike Jordet (Inventory Manager & Dealer Principal), Peter Lansing (General Sales Manager).
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