June 2020


Hello Friends!

Like many people, I’m overwhelmed by the recent events in our state and throughout the country. We are left with so many questions. Maybe questions we should have considered before we got to this point. There isn’t any rolling back the tape to yesterday, last week or even last year. How do we get to a place where we can ask the questions that need asking and listen to the answers? Our kids are frightened for their safety, the safety of their loved ones and the safety of our community. So am I.

If you are feeling helpless and want to be a part of change and healing, there is no better time than now to invest in Big Brothers Big Sisters. Seriously. Now. We know that the relationships of our Bigs and Littles changes their lives, for the better, forever. When relationships are formed, healing happens. When people choose to let other people (possibly very much unlike themselves) into their hearts, healing happens. When questions are asked and the answers are listened to, healing happens. And my goodness, don’t we have healing to do?

  • You can become a Big without leaving your home. We are offering informational sessions and interviews via Zoom. This week we had our first introduction of a Little and Big to each other via Zoom. Be A Big link
  • You can support our Littles without leaving your home by attending our virtual silent auction, participating in our Fund-A-Match, and purchasing raffle tickets. Online Auction link
  • You can support our program by having your own fundraiser. Both Barb Anderson and Monica Voth chose to have Birthday Fundraisers on Facebook, together raising over $2,500.
  • Lee Hurd is hosting a Dream Big Book Club on August 4 that you can attend virtually. RSVP and start reading "The Evidence of V." Flyer link

Forgive me for being so frank, but our kids can’t wait for you to have the time or have more money. Our kids need you to make an investment in them now. Thank you!


Jackie Johnson
Executive Director
LITTLES OF THE YEAR!


Little Sister of the Year – Olivia

Olivia and her Big Sister Solange Miller have been matched for four years. Together they enjoy going outside, doing crafts, and trying new things. Other highlights have been trips to northern MN to go hiking and biking. The match has grown a lot over the last few years – both individually and in their friendship together. Please help us congratulate Olivia on her Little Sister of the Year award!
Little Brother of the Year – Jesse

Jesse and the Noble Family have been matched for four and a half years. Together they enjoy playing board games, spending time outside, and having a meal together. As a match they have also enjoyed bigger events such as going to Valleyfair and a Vikings game. Jesse and his Bigs are always up to try something new and focus on their quality time spent together! Please help us congratulate Jesse on his Little Brother of the Year award! 
MEET OUR FIRST VIRTUAL MATCH!

With our staff safely working from home, we have been able to seamlessly transition to online Matching and Match Support.

Last week our Program Coordinator, Mary, made our first virtual Match over Zoom! Carter Fritze and Eren have a ton in common but especially share a love for art, roller coasters, and cheese. We have 100 waiting Littles - if you have some time, please join us for a Zoom Info Session and let's get you Matched!

Hanna and Zoe are!

A Big welcome to one of our newest matches: Hanna Borkenhagen and Zoe They both enjoy painting and are looking forward to getting to know each other better. 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.
CONGRATS TO OUR 2020 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS!
 
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 deserving 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:
Emily Dien, a graduate of Sauk Rapids High School, is attending Central Lakes College
Drew Beier, a graduate of Foley High School, is attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Joe Skroch, a graduate of Foley High School, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Tangi Jenson, a graduate of Foley High School, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Mathias Lechner, a graduate of Pine River- Backus High School, will be attending Central Lakes College
Kendrick Sindt, a graduate of Sartell High School, is attending Dunwoody Institute of Technology
Taylor Killinger, a graduate of Foley High School, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Derek Kotzer, a graduate of Foley High School, is attending Alexandria Technical & Community College
Jazmine Garcia, a graduate of Apollo High School, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Eric Symanietz, a graduate of MTS MN Connections Academy, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Ethan Matvick, a graduate of Foley High School, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Katie Grundhoefer, a graduate of Foley High School, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Briana Sand, a graduate of Annandale High School, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Emily Schimnich, a graduate of MTS MN Connections Academy, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Jaeger Johnson, a graduate of Sartell High School, is attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Brookelyn Schyma, a graduate of Foley High School, is attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Dana Justin, a graduate of Sartell High School, will be attending St. Cloud Technical & Community College
Each of these students received an award amount between $1,000 to $5,000 per year and it is a renewable scholarship.
 
Jackie Johnson, Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director states, “It is an honor for Big Brothers Big Sisters to partner with Federated Insurance , whose generosity and philanthropy help us impact the lives of young people and build the future of our communities.  This year, we were able to award $61,100 in Federated Challenge scholarships.
We are proud to announce the recipient of the WWBD (What Would BriAnna Do) Memorial Scholarship, which is available to any current or past Little or High School Big, Lauren Peterson.
Lauren Peterson, graduate of Sartell High School, will be attending the University of Minnesota.
DREAM BIG BOOK CLUB- ALL INVITED!

Your book reading can help change the lives of kids in Central Minnesota! Join us for our first-ever Dream Big Book Club online event! Meet the author online as she reads selected parts of the story-sharing about her discovery and reasons for writing. If you register by June 30, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a FREE book!

FEATURED NOVEL
“The Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions” by Minneapolis author Sheila O'Connor.

"The Evidence of V" is a powerful and unforgettable Minnesota story about youth,
motherhood, and family. You will read facts and fictions of the circumstances of V and June's lives. And come away with a deeper appreciation of how family history shapes family's future.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020
7:00 - 9:00 pm
Virtual, online event. Link will be sent to you when you RSVP.

FREE EVENT - During the event we will ask for your financial support, please consider a gift to support our mission if you are able.

To receive the link to the event - RSVP Julie@BigDefenders.org or call 320-258-4510.

BID FOR KIDS! ONLINE AUCTION: JUNE 12-19
NEW RAFFLE DATE: JUNE 19-BUY TICKETS TODAY!
We have rescheduled the Raffle Drawing due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Our new raffle drawing date is Friday, June 19, 2020 at 8:30 pm. Raffle tickets are $10 each or a book of ten for $100. You can purchase tickets by e-mailing Jackie or call her at 320-258-4510. So, hang on to your tickets, they are still good and buy more to increase your odds of winning! Our kids still need us, this is how we can help! 
HELP US BUILD: ALUMNI & VOLUNTEER NETWORK

Were you a former Big or Little in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program? The local mentoring agency is looking to build its alumni network.
 
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.

We are utilizing this time to grow their alumni and volunteer network, while our mentoring matches continue to connect via phone, text, video chat, and letters. 
 
Alumni can become re-engaged with the mentoring program in several different ways such as sharing their story, becoming a Big, serving on a committee, or volunteering at agency activities & events.
 
We have over 100 kids on the waiting list and we continue to enroll mentors and host virtual information sessions. To learn more about the alumni network or becoming a Big, visit  www.BigDefenders.org .
THANK YOU ONLINE AUCTION COMMITTEE!

This month’s Partner Spotlight goes to ALL the amazing volunteers that are supporting “Our Big Night in Oz” Online Auction fundraiser to be held June 12-19.

Thank you to the Marketing Committee: Patty Funk, Jen Och and Alexis Kerslake for all the attention to detail as we spread the word far and wide.

Thank you to the Auction and Raffle Committee: Peggy Brown, Aubrey Walter, JoAnn Theuringer, Vicky Welty, Lee Hurd, Debbie Clausen, Pam Cesnik and Holly Lee for securing the incredible packages offered in the auction.

Our committee volunteers make up the heart and soul of our events and our mission and we thank them for their support.

If you are interested in serving on an event committee or have questions about it contact Emily Steinmetz at 320-258-4515 or Emily@BigDefenders.org
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Erin Bitzan, Peggy Brown, Debbie Clausen, Ann Cofell, Kevin Fitzpatrick (Treasurer), Patty Funk,
Jeff Gannon, Lee Hurd, Andy Knoblauch, Courtney Kunkel, Holly Lee, Bill Martin-Chaffee,
Vince Mohs, Marie Primus (Past President), Luke Riordan, Rick Roehl, Alex Schoephoerster (Vice Pres.), Peter Spaniol (Secretary), Joan Vincent, 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, Bob Walter,
Don Watkins, Sue Wendt, Mike Ziemann