Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bowl for Kids' Sake Press Release!

Bowlers in tutus and green wigs were seen at the 14th Annual Bowl for Kid’s Sake.  The event benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington (BBBSNW) brought in over $36,000.  Held on March 27, 2011, the event was a culmination of community support all coming together at Park Bowl in Bellingham for a celebratory day of bowling, pizza and prizes.
“This event continues to be successful because of the support we receive from local businesses and individuals that are so dedicated to helping children in our community,” says Bliss Goldstein, CEO at BBBSNW.  “Without this support we could not continue our vital mentoring programs.  The funds are used to support matches between Big Brothers or Sisters and children - whose futures are at risk - giving them the childhood they deserve.   With Bowl for Kid’s Sake kids truly win.”
Local celebrities, such as, Mayor Dan Pike, Miss Whatcom County 2011, Miss Whatcom County 2010 and Mrs. Washington helped kick off bowling sessions.  Both Sponsors and individual teams came together to show their support with the generous donations that came through the door throughout the day. 
A vital piece to the day was the volunteers groups from the Girl Scouts of America, Kohl’s, WWU and past or current Big Brothers or Big Sisters who showed up to help make it happen.  As a Big Sister, I was honored to be a part of this event that helps to raise funds towards a program that has enhanced not only my life, but the 400 matches in Whatcom and Skagit county.” said Amanda Sutton, Bowl for Kid’s Sake volunteer. 
BBBSNW is grateful that the thank you list is too long to print.  Please check our website for a list of sponsors and top fundraisers from this year’s Bowl for Kid’s Sake
Top team costumes of the day were awarded to the Lucky Lenders at Pacific Northwest Credit Union, the Bowllerinas at Botanical Laboratories and the Bobble Globble team.  With the enthusiasm created by the costumes and the mission of BBBSNW you can bet there will more teams participating in this event next year.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington is the largest mentoring organization in Northwest Washington, serving over 400 children annually in Whatcom and Skagit counties.  BBBSNW has a BIG dream of transforming our community through positive, stable adult one-to-one mentoring relationships.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Story #4!

Our office administrator Lynn Dayton is very lucky to be able to meet and greet all of our Bigs and Littles who come into our offices. She hears stories from many of our volunteers about their experiences and what a difference Big Brothers Big Sisters had made in their lives. For this and next weeks blog story, Lynn had been kind enough to share some of her favorites with us :)

One day an older gentleman walked in (at our Broadway location) and said he had been a Big Brother many years ago in Whatcom County. While he was visiting family in Bellingham he noticed our office and wanted to stop in to say hello. He reminisced about his days as a Big Brother, matched with a Little Brother from a single-mom home. He had introduced his Little to many outdoor activities including hikes in the woods and mountain climbing. Those fun activities and introduction to nature probably wouldn’t have otherwise been experienced by the Little Brother.  When the Little became 18 the official match ended but they remained very good friends and stayed in touch even though they both moved to different states. The “Big” (now 80 years old) talked about the pleasure of being included in his Little Brother’s wedding.
A few months after that visit, both “Big” and “Little” were in town at the same time and they came to the office together to visit us. At that time we learned that all the outdoor activities they enjoyed together years ago resulted in the Little Brother now serving in the US Forest Service!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mentors Make a Difference

The following story was written by one of our Bigs, Alyssa. She was kind enough to let us re-post it from the Whatcom Volunteer Blog. She covers what it was like getting matched up with a little, and why she loves volunteering for BBBS-NW.
A big thanks to Alyssa for sharing her story with us!

Mentors Make a Difference
After interning in an 8th grade classroom for six months I decided teaching wasn’t for me. For one, I need to be liked! It’s hard to win approval from 30 students when you’re at the front of a classroom handing out lunch detentions. I had pretty much written off working with kids when I happened to meet Samantha DeSoer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington. She explained that their Littles (youth enrolled in the program) like their Big (the adult) just for who they are. A Big’s role is to just be there. Someone else gets to be the parent and teacher. The Big gets to listen and have fun. Well, that sounded like something I could do so I immediately signed up.
I didn’t get my match overnight as I had to go through an interview, background check and training. Then I waited for the right kid to come along. The process gave me enough time to daydream about all the great adventures my match and I would have, but I also started to worry- will she like me?
Now that I’m matched with a wonderful Little, I still wonder if she’s having a good time or if she thinks I’m cool. BBBS-NW says not to worry, just being present in her life is enough. Sure, going to the Star Wars exhibit at the Pacific Science Center is fun, but even just a phone call shows her I care.
I love volunteering for BBBS-NW because it’s a proactive way of raising engaged, responsible members of our community. Youth with mentors have better attendance in school, are less likely to use drugs/alcohol, and have more self-confidence. If you’ve read one of my other blogs, you know I value proactive causes ( So for this reason (and many others) I am happy to be a Big through BBBS-NW.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Story #3!

This week's story is from Dana! Read on to discover what her job with Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about, and for some delightful quotes from some of the Littles she has worked with. 

Match Support Specialist—hmmmm—initially, a rather cryptic and ponderous title for me. Then I started meeting currently matched Bigs and Littles in the School Buddy Program—seeing their smiles as they told me about one another. I started interviewing prospective Bigs and Littles—sensing their desire to make a real difference in the life of a child. I started matching Bigs and Littles myself—perceiving the nervous excitement and self-conscious hopefulness that comes with beginning a friendship.  I started asking questions, listening, observing, absorbing, and learning.

And recently, I’ve been experimenting with how to do this label. That’s the tricky part, right? I know that I want to help Bigs and Littles foster meaningful relationships—connections that transform perceptions and transcend differences. What an amazing, dynamic thing to hope and strive for at work! But what does this sound like in words? What does it look like in actions? This brings me back to “hmmmm.”

So basically and practically-speaking the main mechanism of Match Support, happens as a face-to-face check-in with the Little and a phone conversation with the Big every other month. I ask questions to see how things are going and to bring any issues to the surface that might need some attention. This past month I did my first round of match support with all 49 of my current matches.

The resulting 98 conversations definitely provided me with a lot of initial insight into what Big Brothers Big Sisters is really about, the strengths and challenges of the School Buddies Program and a better idea of how I want to fill this role in a thoughtful, effective way that I can really be proud of.

For now, here are some sweet quotes from Littles this time around.  Sentiments like these encourage me to keep constructing a version of Match Support that can genuinely promote those meaningful connections and support them though the inevitable ups and downs.

Little Quotes from My First Round of Match Support

·       I’m always so happy to see her!
·       He talks to me like a regular person, not like a kid.
·       She makes me feel wonderful!
·       She cares for me and watches out for me—she’s just my best friend.
·       When I’m feeling down and tell her about a bad day, she makes me feel better.
·       She’s really nice and never makes me do stuff I don’t want to do.
·       We have so many things in common!
·       She’s knows how to play around and have fun—she’s like a big kid!
·       She shows me respect with her kind words.
·       Nothing stops him from coming!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Story #2!

This week our story is from Samantha DeSoer, a touching example of how BBBS makes an impact in so many peoples lives.

“So what do you do? I’m a college student, but what do you do?” This question coming from a woman who just started a conversation with me as I was riding the bus back out to Nooksack. 
She was sharing with me her excitement on receiving her tax refund to purchase a desperately needed car. Her train of thought then turned to how thankful she was for all the gifts she had in her life, after being homeless and what I assume to be other struggles, “I thank God that I have a floor to mop and a pan to wash!” 
When the conversation was then pushed into my direction, I answered that I work for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Do you?! Do you really?!” This woman, who I had never met until a few short minutes before, started welling up reminiscing about the relationship she had with her “Big” as a youth. Tears freely rolled down her cheeks as she remembered her very first Prince record, going to see Janet Jackson in concert, and the unconditional acceptance her Big gave her. My bus companion came from an abusive, alcoholic home and the acceptance she received from her BS, who never judged the situation, has never left her. “I would be in a much worse state without the attention she gave me.”  She gently took my hand, looked deeply into my eyes and thanked me; this stranger thanked me for the work I do, the relationships I help create, and the impact I make on a daily basis. As we were approaching her stop, she wanted me to know that she’s going to graduate next year from WCC and transfer to WWU to be a chemical dependency advocate for youth. 

As she got up, I realized the importance of this interaction, that because of her experience as a Little, she is now pursuing a profession to make positive changes in youths lives.  I took her hand and thanked her back. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stories from the Staff

Hey everyone, in the upcoming weeks we will be posting some amazing stories written by the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, detailing some of the many wonderful moments that they've experienced while being a part of BBBS. There are so many meaningful things that happen at BBBS and we just had to share them all with you!

Our first entry is from Laurel Kunesh, our match support specialist and school buddies coordinator

Stories – that’s what it’s all about; listening to stories.  I learn about kindhearted, big hearted, adults who want to spend time volunteering by listening to their life stories.  Some understand loss and loneliness and want to help a child feel loved and special.  Some grew up in what they feel was an idyllic family setting and they want to “give something back” to society.  Others just want to hang out with a kid and have some fun. 
Listening to the stories of the children is fascinating in a different way.  Some answer questions you didn’t even ask, their stories are bursting out their seams.  Some are sheltered and innocent and they don’t know how chaotic their home life really is….they don’t know it could be different; well, some of them know it is different for some of their peers and they secretly envy them.  Some are surrounded by loving adults who understand that their child needs extra attention, they ask for a Big for their child to help fill that empty spot. 
Eventually matches are made and stories blend – pasts are shared – futures are projected.  New stories emerge, new memories are created.  Supporting each match means putting all the bits and pieces together; adding to each story are those who form the village: teachers, counselors, occasional family members, and anyone else who show up on the path. 
Matching stories, pairing lives, supporting relationships, that is what my job is all about.