Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saying Goodbye

As you know, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington has been struggling financially for a number of months. Unfortunately, our recent efforts - an appeal to the community, aggressively applying for grants and an added event - have not been enough.
On behalf of the BBBS-NW Board of Directors, it is with deep regret and sadness that we report Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington is closing.  We wanted you to know before the press release goes out tomorrow.
Since 1976, BBBS-NW has supported children to stay in school, graduate from high school, make positive choices, and strengthen relationships with their families.
BBBS-NW has had a long and varied history. We have served, at different times, just Whatcom County and both Whatcom and Skagit counties. We had many profitable years with Bingo which allowed us to financially support and fund other local non-profits. We have earned numerous awards over the years, most recently as the Whatcom Chamber of Commerce's Non-Profit of the Year in 2011.  

And there have been challenges, especially after the closing of Bingo in 2002. Since then we have struggled to find a consistent, reliable funding stream. Some Federal grants have seen us through some lean times, but, since the economic downturn, those funds have dried up as well. Even with the merger we were pursuing, we can say with assurance that our funding model cannot sustain us.
And so, with grateful hearts to you for your years of continued support and commitment, it is time for us to close our doors, effective September 30, 2013.
A quote that has appeared in many of our event programs and newsletters over the years says, "To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world." Your generosity and support over the years has meant the world to us. We can't thank you enough for trusting us and enabling us to give the children of our community that one person who meant the world to them.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

We want to give a big thanks to the Bellingham Herald for printing this op-ed peice written by our very own Colleen Haggerty, Check it out below:

Big Brothers Big Sisters seeks support for mentoring youths

Read more here:
 To the lives of the children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington, mentoring matters. Our program makes a difference in the lives of our Little Brothers and Little Sisters every day.
Right now our organization needs you. The result of the loss of two significant grants a few years ago combined with the economic recession means that we haven't been able to build up our reserves; we've had to use them. We are at a critical juncture and there are two organizations with whom we are actively pursuing a merger. But we know that mergers take time. So we are coming to you, the community that we have served for 37 years, to financially help us as we continue the process of merging.
Mentoring is a preventative, back-door approach to improving the life of a child facing adversity. You have likely seen many of our matches out in the community -- having cocoa at a coffee shop, playing Frisbee at Boulevard Park, or at the movie theater -- but there's far more going on between that Big and that Little than it appears.
Changing the life of a child is a simple act. For one of our Big Sisters, the opportunity to change the life of her Little Sister came when she saw her Little Sister deal with peer pressure in middle school. The Little Sister's friends were choosing to have sex, use drugs and join gangs. She looked to her Big Sister, someone with whom she could have honest, candid conversations about these issues. Her Big Sister demystified and de-glorified these topics and presented real consequences to choosing those paths. The Little Sister fought the peer pressure and is now a thriving high school student.
Our impact on good decision making is felt long after Littles graduate from high school and from our program. Of the alumni Little who responded to the 2009 Harris Interactive survey:
Ninety percent said their relationship with their Big helped them make better choices throughout their childhood;
Eighty-six percent said their relationship with their Big has helped them make better choices throughout their adult life;
Seventy-six percent said they learned right from wrong from their Big.
For one of our Little Brothers, a boy who never thought higher education was within reach, the moment that changed everything was when his Big Brother, a WWU college student, explained to him that he, too, could go to college and develop his passion: fixing computers. That Little Brother is now planning to go to BTC for their computer technology degree.
Our impact on education is felt long after Littles graduate from high school. In 2009, Harris Interactive conducted an online survey of alumni Littles from across the nation. Among those former Littles:
Seventy-seven percent reported doing better in school because of their Big;
Sixty-five percent agreed their Big helped them reach a higher level of education that they thought possible;
Fifty-two percent agreed their Big kept them from dropping out of high school.
Many people are surprised to discover that we need to raise every dollar of our budget every year. We do not have a fee for service, any federally mandated dollars, or a passive source of income. We do have three fundraising events every year: our annual auction and gala, Bowl For Kids' Sake and our Golf Classic. We also aggressively apply for grants and depend on corporate and individual donations.
So, how can you help Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington weather this storm? There are three ways you can support us:
Join us for Mentoring Matters "Pledge for the Kids" event at Boundary Bay Brewery Beer Garden on Saturday, June 8, from 4 - 10 p.m. This event is a plea to you, our local community, to support the survival of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington. Come enjoy live music, entertainment, raffles and make a financial pledge to prove "Mentoring Matters" in our community!
Enjoy a game of golf and dinner with your friends at our annual Golf Classic on Aug. 9 at Shuksan Golf Club, Bellingham.
Or, if you'd rather skip the events and just make a contribution, go to our website at
Mentoring matters. Please help Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington continue to fulfill our mission to mentor youth facing adversity in Whatcom and Skagit counties.
Colleen Haggerty is executive director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington. Contact her at

Click below to visit the Bellingham Herald website and article:

Read more here:

Decreased Funding Creates Financial Struggle for BBBS-NW to
Continue to Serve At-Risk Youth

Bellingham, WA, May 6, 2013 – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington (BBBS-NW) is asking for donations from the local community to support their mission to mentor at-risk youth in Whatcom & Skagit counties.   Decreased funding has recently forced BBBS-NW to cut programs, execute layoffs, and shrink the operating budget.  

Discussions of mergers, heavy fundraising efforts, and continued cuts are being pursued.  BBBS-NW went from an average of 7.2 full time staff in 2012 to 4.5 in 2013.  Many Bigs and Littles remain unmatched on a waiting list. Each match costs approximately $1,092 per year, with heavy staff hours going into interviewing, background checks, training of Bigs, matching, and ongoing support.

BBBS-NW has provided mentoring relationships locally for 37 years and weathered several recessions. In 1986, BBBS-NW saw huge success in the Bingo program, prior to the opening of local casinos.   During those more prosperous times, BBBS-NW actually financially supported other non-profits.   Over the last four years, one significant grant decreased from $84,696 in 2009, $40,635 in 2010, $17,724 in 2011, and $4,689 in 2012.  Another grant, which had an annual average of $184,879, ended in 2010.  This drastic decrease in grants, combined with dwindling individual contributions from the community ($14,947 in 2012), forced the elimination of the highly regarded School Buddies program, resulting in 115 fewer children served. Further drastic actions may need to be implemented.

The School Buddies program served children at nine local schools.  When BBBS-NW evaluated continued viability last fall, they chose to suspend School Buddies in order to keep the organization open.  The teachers involved, though saddened by the news, expressed a strong desire to see the program reopen if BBBS-NW found itself in a healthier situation in the future.   

Executive Director Colleen Haggerty says, “While we don’t have a facility to showcase our program, the impacts to our community are profound.  What we do changes lives.  When a child thrives as they do with a mentor, the effects ripples into the community in positive ways. I don’t think this community wants to see us close our doors.”

Poverty is a strong indicator of risky behaviors in youth and 81% of youth served by BBBS-NW fall into that category, while 78% do not have two parents at home.  Children mentored by BBBS are 47% less likely to use illegal drugs.  86% of alumni said they learned to make better choices throughout their adult life from their Big.  389 children were served in 2010, with only 89 in 2013 (YTD) throughout Whatcom & Skagit counties.  

In order to remain a viable resource, BBBS-NW needs roughly 100 people to donate $80 on a monthly basis.  For those interested in donating to keep Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington a vital part of our community, call 360-671-6400 or go to our website:  On Saturday, June 8th BBBS-NW is hosting a pledge drive event, “Mentoring Matters,” at Boundary Bay beer garden from 4 – 10 pm.  Entertainment, raffles and food will be available.


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington is the largest one-to-one mentoring organization in Northwest Washington.  The vision of BBBS-NW is to provide children who face adversity with thriving one-to-one mentoring relationships, building stronger communities for generations to come.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A BIG Thank You

This post is for all of our amazing volunteers-
For our Big Sisters and Big Brothers who take the time to hang out with little kids. For our staff who spend their days making matches and working tirelessly to keep our doors open, and for our board members who are always giving us their all. and of course, its for our interns, our sponsors and our amazing community for always supporting us! 
Without all of you we wouldn't be able to do what we do, and we are so thankful! We want to share with you some testimonials from people who have benefited from your support. 
What a Big Brother did for Nicole’s son…
“My name is Nicole, and I’m a busy, self-employed, single-mother of an amazing 8 year-old boy named Nickolas. Nick and I have been on our own for awhile now and have truly been to hell and back. We have survived living through domestic violence and are really proud of how far we have come from where we once started. My son has been without a dad since he was 8 months old. The void and absence that this has caused within our lives is something that has brought me a lot of heartache and sadness.
“I was extremely fortunate to have learned about Big Brothers Big Sisters while we were living at Dorothy Place. Although, Nick was put on a waiting list that was over a year long, I must say that it was well worth the wait!
“Little did I know that we would get matched with the perfect “Big Brother,” for Nick, this amazing man’s name is David. David and Nick hit it off right away by doing some of the things that Nick loves best, being outdoors, spending quality time together, bonding and playing with some pretty amazing creatures that Mother Nature provides.
“We have been truly blessed to have known David for over a year and to have him be a part of Nick’s life. David may not know it, but the type of impact that he has made in my son’s life is one that brings tears to my eyes as I write this letter. David is helping to fill the all too important role of being a much needed healthy male figure in my son’s life. (Thankfully, Nick is also blessed to have a wonderful and healthy role model that his Grandpa provides as well and does an unbelievable job with!) For a young boy I think that one of the most important things for him to have in his life is a man to look up to, to learn from and to gain insight, knowledge and skills into what it means to be a “very good man.” This is what David is for my son, but I see him also, “A True Hero Within Our Lives!”
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart David! When you decided to make a huge difference in our lives and volunteer for the ‘Big Brother/Big Sister,’ program without an expectation of compensation, you sacrificed a part of yourself that my son is benefiting so much from. What else could any person in my shoes ask for? You’re the best!”

Sharon on her son’s experience with a Big Brother:
“I have always felt that my son will be a great person when he grows up. I knew that getting a Big Brother or Sister would contribute to his enthusiastic attitude about life. When he was paired with Katie [in the School Buddies Program], he was ecstatic! He looks up to her and loves to spend time just talking and hanging out. Every child could use an older “brother” or “sister” to be there for them and just be a positive influence in their lives. Andre looks forward to seeing her and keeping in touch even when school is out. I know this is a friendship that he will remember and treasure.”
For more testimonials, visit our website at
If you're interested in volunteering, please don't hesitate to call or email us! We can never have too many volunteers : ) 
Our next big event is Bowl for Kids' Sake, its not to early to sign up your team and start gathering donations! Join us in April for a fun day of snacks, prizes and bowling ! 
Happy Mentoring month everyone! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reunite Now!


Big Brothers Big Sisters is launching a new campaign to reach out to everyone who used to be involved with BBBS, and bring them back! We want to keep in touch with you all, and this is our way of making that happen!

With the new Reunite campaign, we will be able to reach out and reconnect people with their Bigs or Littles. It will be easier for us to keep you updated about BBBS and share with you the great things we are doing in the community. Maybe you've moved, and lost touch with your  Big/Little, not a problem. BigBrothers Big Sisters of America will be referring people to the correct branches, and hopefully we will be able to get those past matches back together :)

We miss having you involved and want to reunite, Click Here to start your search today !

Thursday, January 10, 2013

National Mentoring Month!

Happy New Year! 

Everyone at Big Brothers Big Sisters is excited to begin a new year with tons of new opportunities for helping our community. We have a lot going on this year at BBBS and are so glad that youll be a part of it! 

First off for this year we have January, National Mentoring Month! How will you spread the word about mentoring this January? Here are ten things YOU can do for national mentoring month 

Also, here are some encouraging words about mentoring from President Obama : 

"Mentors know that helping a child unlock their full potential begins with care, guidance, and support - which is why my Administration is proud to celebrate mentorship nationwide through programs that help young people see the strength within themselves. We created the Corporate Mentoring Challenge, which encourages businesses across our country to open or expand mentoring programs that equip our youth with the tools to achieve. We have connected young men and women in the Washington, D.C., area with mentors at the White House, and we have partnered with groups across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build pathways to summer job opportunities for low-income and disconnected youth. And since 2010, we have worked to build strong connections between children and responsible adults through our Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative."

If you want to see the entire proclamation click here :

We want to hear about your mentoring experiences and what youre doing for mentoring month, so let us know via Facebook or Twitter! 

Monday, November 26, 2012

You, Social Media, and your Little

Hey Bigs! Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving break. This week we wanted to do a little post to talk about Social Media, and how your adventures with your Little fit into that.

We are so thankful when you guys mention BBBS in social media, it helps spread the word about our organization and gains more followers and volunteers for us. We can never have enough Bigs! But it's important to make sure you keep your Little anonymous when you post. To do this, just dont post any names or pictures. We want to make sure we keep that part of the program off of the internet. Its up to your Little to decide if he/she wants to tell people they are in the program, and to protect their decision please avoid mentioning names.

Other ways to refer to your Little:
Little Brother/ Little Sister
My Match
First letter of his or her name (i.e. Me and S went to the movies today)

Thank you for being understanding of this, and if you have any questions regarding social media and your Little please dont hesitate to email or call us! Here is a list of our staff, and their contact information: