Starting Something.

Read the first installment of Tylishia’s Story.

If I didn’t think Tylishia was a talkative ball of energy before, I certainly do now! I am so excited to announce that we have located Tylishia’s wonderful Big Sister, and they couldn’t be more perfect together.

Before her Big Sister arrived, Tylishia said she was worried she wouldn’t like Karen because she was “too old.” She couldn’t see herself being friends with an adult. When Big Sister Karen walked through the door, the first thing Tylisha did was run and give her a big hug. In that moment, all the hurt of not having a Big Sister until now disappeared and the fear of not connecting no longer existed.

They hit it off immediately. They spent the afternoon playing Wii and attempting to make crafts together. Tylishia was too excited to sit still during the craft so she just bounced around the room and talked non-stop.

Tylishia came to the Oliver Hill House just like she has every week, but she left with a new Big Sister. Karen started something in Tylishia’s life yesterday. And I’m pretty sure Tylishia started something in Karen’s life as well. I’m excited to see where this new friendship takes them!

60 Men in 60 Days Final Update

 

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Our 60 Men in 60 Days campaign has come to an end. We had our ups and downs; there was laughter, there were tears. Just kidding. There were no tears. There was just overwhelming support from the community and from our amazing Bigs.

We did it! Through media, events, and referrals from Bigs, we had 71 male inquiries about being a Big Brother. This is 11 more than our original goal! To put that into perspective, in October and November of last year, we had 20 male inquiries. That is a 350% increase! So far, we have matched 38 boys on our waiting list with Big Brothers, and there are many more men going through the enrollment process. That is double the amount of male matches we made in the same time last year.

The purpose of this campaign was to get the word out that we need Big Brothers, and we did just that. The more adults we can touch with our message, the more lives we can change in Southwest Virginia. And even though our 60 days have come and gone, our need for male mentors has not. Consider sharing our story with a man in your life who has something to offer a child facing adversity.

 

Operation: Locate Big Sister

“Everyone else has a Big Sister already, and I’ve been here the longest!!” Tylisha said with a sassy tone and a shake of the head. “Its. Not. Fair.”

I spent the day at the Oliver Hill House, and was helping Prentise, one of our fourth grade boys with his probability homework. Tylisha had (heroically) finished her homework at school, so she spent homework time getting into the arts and crafts cabinet. She laughed as she drew a not-so-flattering picture of me dressed up for Halloween. Making small talk while Prentise was finishing a math problem, I asked, “Do you have a Big Sister yet?”

The mood quickly changed; Tylisha cocked her head to the side. “No! Everyone else has a Big Sister already, and I’ve been here the longest!!” In her eyes, she could not understand why she hadn’t been matched with a Big Sister. I tried to explain how we were looking for a special Big Sister for her because she is such a special Little Sister. “We are waiting for someone perfect for you!” I told her. But even as the words left my mouth, I felt mixed emotions. I also didn’t understand why she didn’t have a Big Sister.

As the staff member responsible for volunteer recruitment, I also felt guilty. I wasn’t lying to her; we are waiting to find a perfect match for Tylisha. But why haven’t I found her? Where is Tylisha’s perfect Big Sister? Tylisha certainly needs (and deserves) the best Big Sister. The best way to find her, I decided, was to share Tylisha’s story.

After Prentice finished his homework, I had the opportunity to spend some one-to-one time with Tylisha. It’s incredible how she opened up once I was able to focus my attention on her. She made hair extensions out of bright blue yarn and paperclips, and she proceeded to put them in my hair, along with a tweed headband she crafted together. She giggled as she took a paintbrush (minus the paint) to my face, pretending to give me a make-over. Needless to say, Tylisha made me beautiful. And Tylisha’s happiness made her beautiful.

I’m so grateful I was able to act as Tylisha’s interim Big Sister. Unfortunately, that just isn’t enough. Join me on my search for Tylisha’s Big Sister. Do you know a woman who enjoys crafts, fun, and spunky fifth graders? Maybe you are the perfect fit. Please contact Jessica Scaggs (jscaggs@bigslittles.org) to learn more information about volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

60 Men in 60 Days Update

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Wow. Just, wow. I have been completely overwhelmed by the support the community has given to our 60 Men in 60 Days campaign. Within minutes of announcing the campaign to the Bigs in our program, I was getting emails and phone calls asking how they could help. We truly have the best volunteers ever in the best community. Ever,

Let me back up. Starting October 1, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia launched a 60 Men in 60 Days campaign. Our goal was to relentlessly recruit Big Brothers for the 143 Little Brothers waiting for Bigs, and the 70 boys waiting to be put on the waitlist for a Big. These boys are in desperate need of positive male role models. Being a Big Brother means making a commitment of the heart, which is just what these boys need.

After announcing our campaign, we were innundated with community members wanting to help. Media partners such as WSLS 10, the Roanoke Times, K92, WFIR, Vibe 100, Star Country, Q99, 101.5 the Valley’s Music Place, and 107.1 PSK, all ran promotional stories and public service announcements to get the word out to the community. We even were able to feature Littles on our wait list as well as devoted Big Brothers in these promotions, which has been an awesome experience for all of them.

We are officially halfway through our campaign, and we have matched 29 Little Brothers with Big Brothers, with even more male volunteers that are going through the application process. While we are so excited about this accomplishment, we still have 30 more days and 30 more matches to make! Have you been thinking about being a Big Brother, but were nervous to make the commitment? Do you have a friend who has something to give to the life of a child (HINT: everyone)? Now is the perfect time to find out more information about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister!

Do you have any creative ideas about how to spread the word about our 60 Men in 60 Days campaign during the month of November? Let us know!

Visit www.bigslittles.org or email jscaggs@bigslittles.org for more information.

Big Brother Shawn and Little Brother Joe- Pulaski County

The most important way a Big can impact the life of their Little is through the power of friendship. One of the best examples of this from Pulaski County is a Big named Shawn and his Little Brother named Joe. They were matched in October of 2012 when Joe was in the fifth grade. Shawn has his own family and even his own children, but when he heard about the program being started in Pulaski County and all of the benefits that come with creating a positive friendship with a child in need in the community, he was eager to get started. Prior to being matched with Shawn, Joe missed school frequently, made poor grades, and got in trouble at school often. The week before his first match meeting with Shawn was the last time that Joe got a disciplinary action and his attendance started to improve.  His grades also increased each six weeks and at the end of last school year, he made straight A’s! It was a first for him and a first for his family. He was very proud and so was Shawn.  Shawn and Joe are still matched today and they share a very close bond even in middle school. When people ask what can one hour a week really do in the life of a child, Shawn and Joe are great examples of the power of that friendship.

Opening the House

Yesterday, we kicked off our season of Open House events by inviting Trane out to the Oliver Hill House for lunch. Now, Trane is no stranger to Big Brothers Big Sisters. For the past 2 years, they have organized the Mark Donihe Memorial Golfish Tournament, which raises money for BBBS in loving memory of Mark Donihe, Trane employee and devoted Big Brother who passed away suddenly in January 2012. His Little Brother Antonio (who isn’t so little anymore) was even able to take a break from work and join us. By inviting people in to our world, I was reminded of the incredible community we are able to be a part of, and how much I want to share that with the rest of Southwest Virginia. Opening the House seems like the most effective way to do that.

1. People can Ask Questions

I intended for the Open House to be a presentation, but very quickly it turned into a lively conversation about our goals and vision for the agency and how we could work together to make that happen. The intimate setting (there were only 8 of us) fostered questions that I would have never even thought to cover in a presentation, but were essential for everyone to understand our programs and the impact they have on kids in the community. In our future Open House events, my intention is for the conversation to flow freely and the enthusiasm to ring throughout the house.

2.  People can See the Impact

When I look around the Oliver Hill House, I can physically see the impact BBBS is making on the kids in our community. Just having an inviting, safe place to come to once a week is impactful enough, but the next year is going to be full of fun mini-field trips, life-changing lessons, and the beginnings of lasting friendships between Littles and their Bigs. When people come over for Open House events, I want them to see the importance of our organization in the lives of children and picture themselves being a part of it.

3. We can Invite People into our Community

We were so excited that Antonio (Mark’s Little Brother) was able to join us yesterday. He is truly a BBBS success story if I ever saw one. He came from a single parent household, but he also had a second family in Mark. Now, Antonio works at the Sheriff’s office, protecting the people in situations that he was able to overcome through Big Brothers Big Sisters.   As we all talked, I thought to myself, we are all a part of something really special, really monumental. All we had to do was to walk into the open door. More people need to experience this.

Our Open House events are just that; they are open to anyone who wants to see what we are doing. There are no obligations, and we are not asking for anything. We just want the chance to share our story with you. Please join us every Thursday (starting today) until the end of 2013 at 12pm at 401 Gilmer Avenue. Bring your lunch, and spend a little while with us; ask questions, see the impact, and join our one-of-a-kind community.

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