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Find a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah drop-off bin or donation center, or schedule a pick-up at BBBSU.ORG!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
– Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
Thousands of seniors across Utah are graduating from high school this month. Among those students, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah have 30 Littles in our programs that are graduating as well. We would like to send a special congratulations to them and let them know how proud they should be of their big accomplishment.
Everyone knows that high school is hard. Between maintaining friendships, dating, and extracurricular activities, making your education a priority can be difficult. We hope that the encouragement and support from their Bigs has helped make life a little easier and a lot more fun.
In celebration of our graduating Littles and their Bigs, we held our annual Spring Fling event at the Falls Event Center in Salt Lake City. With the catering provided by Rodizio Grill and Starbucks and the desserts provided by Fresh Market and City Cakes, we were able to spotlight our graduates and present them with certificates and best wishes.
If you know a high school graduate, be sure to congratulate them on this important and significant milestone and give them the best advice on life that you can offer!
Check out our graduate slideshow below!
About a month ago, I started volunteering at a local elementary school with a grouped called Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a program in communities across the country that helps children who experience adversity realize their potential by being matched with volunteers to create a supported one-on-one relationship.
The first time I heard about the program that works with kids ages 6 to 18 was when I was searching online for volunteer opportunities.
Being a part of the National Honor Society at Park City High School, I must complete hours of volunteer work for our community.
I get along with kids and enjoy teaching, so I decided to interview for Big Brothers Big Sisters. As soon as I matched with my “little,” or mentee, I couldn’t wait to start.
My experience as a mentor has been nothing but fun so far. My 8-year-old “little sister” is full of enthusiasm and spirit, and I couldn’t be happier to be her “big sister.”
Growing up, I always wished for a little sister because I wanted to be someone who was considered a role model. That feeling of someone looking up to you and knowing that you’re making a difference in that person’s life was what I wanted to experience.
That opportunity remained a dream until I started volunteering. I didn’t know it would happen when I started, but after a few weeks, the relationship I developed with my mentee is very strong, like a sister bond. She looks up to me like I’m her actual big sister. The fact that I’m changing her life for the better is the best feeling.
The program takes place one hour each week at the elementary schools those enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters attend. During that hour, mentors help the kids with their homework, and then spend the remaining time playing games.
I feel over the course of five weeks I already have a relationship with the little girl I see once a week. I can see a lot of personality shining through her, and I think that’s the reason we get along so well.
I know this program is designed to help and inspire children in need, but I can honestly say I’ve been inspired as well. My companion is constantly teaching me new things, and I cherish every moment we spend together. Also, I enjoy seeing how she has progressed over the weeks when it comes to school work, which makes me feel I’m helping her succeed one problem at a time.
Lacey Cole-Rae, the group’s manager for Summit and Wasatch Counties, said mentoring benefits children.
“Kids with mentors have better attitudes toward school and education,” she said. “They are less likely to engage in risky behavior, and they have better relationships with their peers and families.”
This organization is very inspiring to everyone that is part of it. The relationship between the big sisters and little sisters is very special and unique with each pair.
I want all the littles out there, especially my own, to know they can achieve anything they put their mind to.
I hope that more people join this program because the impact it has is tremendous. People don’t realize the benefit a caring and consistent mentor can have in a child’s life. Also, the mentor is rewarded with the feeling of satisfaction, knowing they’ve changed a child’s life for the better.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is hoping to ring in the new-year during National Mentoring Month with a powerful bang by raising awareness of the life-changing benefits of one-to- one mentoring and recruiting Big Brother and Sister volunteers. Mentoring relationships have proven to strengthen a child’s ability to thrive educationally and to make positive choices.
BBBSU has 335 children waiting for a mentor today, and we want to raise awareness of the need for mentors in our community during National Mentoring Month. This year we hope to find mentors for 525 children statewide. In total, our goal is to support mentoring for 1,320 children in 2017. About 800 of these matches are ongoing. Our biggest need is recruiting volunteers. “The gift of a mentor is something many of us take for granted,” said Nancy Basinger, president and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. “A mentor’s valuable guidance, support and belief in that child reduces risky behaviors in children while increasing their academic achievement, and improving relationships and self-confidence making future success more likely, research has shown.”
To sign up to be a volunteer or to donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, please visit www.mentor.bbbsu.org.
President Obama, Governor Gary Herbert, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Park City Mayor Jack Thomas, and St. George Major Jon Pike have all designated January as Mentoring Month. Created in 2002 by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for young people. Since 1978 BBBSU has passionately pursued its mission to provide Utah children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally-supported one-to- one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
On January 17, 2017 and January 24, 2017, Popeyes® stores in, Herriman, Midvale, and West Valley will donate 15% of all sales to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. The promotion will take place from 5 – 8 p.m. BBBSU personnel will be in store to talk about the non-profit’s mission, and to answer any customer questions. In addition, the retail outlets will provide BBBSU signage and counter jars to collect donations.
BBBSU’s programs include:
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Building a relationship. In the hurry to make a difference, mentors can forget to take time to build a relationship and establish a firm connection. This means carefully cultivating trust. It means being patient. Many people will test mentors to see if they are for real.
Respecting boundaries. When mentors ask people personal questions before a solid relationship has been established, the most common response if silence. People will clam up. Mentors who do not respect their mentees’ needs for privacy are often quick to alienate them.
Being sensitive to differences. It is necessary to realize that mentors and those they work with come from different worlds, a reality even for mentors who may have grown up disadvantaged. On one level, this means being aware of the embarrassment a person might feel about being poor. As one young man said about his mentor, “I rarely let him come to my house, even now, because it’s not the house that I want, it’s not the house that I would have if l was in charge of it.”
Providing support and challenges. Successful mentors are consistently there for people, delivering a sustained message: “You are important.” When problems arise, effective mentors resist telling people what to do and instead work with them to address the problems. These mentors are eventually able to strike a constructive balance between supporting and challenging – both nurturing people and pushing them toward their goals.
Acknowledging reciprocity. While mentors often have to provide the initiative early in the relationship as trust is being established and the relationship built, mentoring is a two-way street. Growth, benefits and struggles are present on both sides, and mentors who are able to convey that they are there for mutual exchange – not just to solve problems – stand the greatest chance of making a solid connection.
Being realistic. Few mentors turn lives around, but mentors who help people move toward achieving goals can make a real contribution. Often this means having thick skin – tolerating unreturned phone calls, accepting the vicissitudes of youth, recognizing the social and cultural gaps that must be bridged. In the end, few virtues in mentoring rival ongoing commitment and genuine caring.
Sparking a Fourth Grader’s Imagination
by Oprah Winfrey
“One of the defining moments of my life came in the fourth grade, the year I was Mrs. Duncan’s student. What Mrs. Duncan did for me was to help me not to be afraid of being smart. She encouraged me to read, and she often stayed after school to work with me, helping me choose the books and letting me help her grade papers. For many years after that, I had one goal; that I would one day become a fourth-grade teacher who would win the teacher award – because I was going to be the best teacher anyone had ever seen.”
Through August 15th, Big Brother Big Sisters of Utah is partnering with Buffalo Wild Wings to help promote our 60 men 60 Days campaign! With your help, we are hoping to generate funds to help us recruit more men as volunteer Big Brothers. We currently have 300+ Little Brothers on our waiting list that are anxiously awaiting a Big to make a difference in their life!
Step 1: Bring your Home Team Advantage Teammate Card into any Buffalo Wild Wings in Utah, before August 15, 2016.
Step 2: Show your card, on a mobile device or via prionted copy, to your server.
Step 3: The server will add 10% of your total sales to BBBSU’s running total. It’s that easy!
Be a “Big” help! Start a child’s school year off right!
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is hitting the pavement this summer with an ambitious plan to enroll 60 men in 60 days as Big Brothers, and start the matching process for the 295 boys on the Wait List, waiting as long as 12 months. The campaign started June 15, 2016 and will end August 15, 2016, encourages men to step up and volunteer. We’re looking for caring adults of all genders and cultures but the organization’s greatest need is for men to enroll and mentor.
Currently, we have 258 male mentors matched with a child compared to the 504 female mentors matched with a child in Utah. BBBSU created the 60 Men 60 Days campaign to address this demand so no child waits an extended amount of time for a Big Brother.
“Being a Big Brother to my Little Brother Gabe was one of the most important and satisfying roles in my life,” said Matt Wollam, vice president of Wollam Construction. “When I met Gabe he was a shy 12 year old boy with no male role model. All he needed was a chance and someone to care about him. I am happy to say Gabe is now a confident 22 year old marine who is starting his first semester of college at Weber State University.”
Mentoring relationships have proven to strengthen a child’s ability to thrive educationally and to make positive choices. We want to passionately pursue our mission to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally-supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Based on yearly Utah surveys of all children who have taken part in national BBBS mentoring programs in 2015, “Littles” showed significant improvements in attitudes toward risky behaviors, scholastic competence, and social acceptance.
We are inviting males from all over the state of Utah to sign-up to become a mentor for three different programs:
Are you ready to help change a life? Fill out an application NOW to help us reach our goal!Sign up today!
Making a difference in the life of a child can happen in many different ways. Due to time constraints, or other circumstances not everyone can commit to mentoring, but there are other ways to help. People like Shantel VanWagoner show that with just a little bit of effort, anyone can make a difference.
Shantel’s kids had the idea that their family should organize a carnival for all their neighbors to enjoy. Many parents would likely just pat their tot on the head and blow the idea off, but the VanWagoners ran with it. They raised $115 with their homemade carnival and generously donated the proceeds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. They did all this with little more than an idea and the willingness to make it work.
This isn’t the first time that Shantel has lent a helping hand to kids in need at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. She was a Big Sister almost 11 years ago for a little 8-year-old girl and really enjoyed the experience. “I believe fully in the (BBBSU) program and in what it does,” Shantel said.
She is definitely not afraid of working hard to make big differences in children’s lives, but her carnival shows how far a little effort can go too. She said that after her kids gave her the idea, she had them go around the neighborhood with signs advertising the event and promoted it on their neighborhood Facebook page. They also stopped by the store and bought a few small prizes, cookies, and lemonade to prepare for all the people in attendance.
When asked what advice she would give those people who don’t know if or how they can make a difference, she pointed to the work her kids did to make her carnival a reality. “Even children, who just have good intentions and want to have fun, can make a big difference in people’s lives,” she said. “There are all kinds of ways to make a difference.”
Find out how you can make a difference, big or small, in the lives of Utah kids. LEARN MORE
On July 29, 2015 we hosted a picnic for all Bigs, Littles, and their families at Murray Park. There was plenty to enjoy for all who attended the event. The kids hurtled from one exciting game to the next, with entertainment only a few steps in any direction. There was Tug-of-war, Cakewalk, Frisbee, face painting, a nearby playground, and more to keep all tykes large and small in high spirits.
While most of the games there were mostly kid-oriented, there was plenty of great food and company for the adults as well. There were delicious hamburgers and hot dogs to chow down on, which were in high demand for all the hungry guests. The gazebo that served as the dinner area was packed with people, who enjoyed some pleasant conversation and some great grub.
The picnic was a huge success and it was clear from just a glance that all the kids there had a blast. But it couldn’t have been done without the generous and exceptional support from organizations like Smith’s, The Gap, Ute CrossFit, and City Cakes.
The event was a great hit and it was wonderful to see so many hardworking volunteers and families enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation. Again, shout-outs to Smith’s, The Gap, Ute CrossFit, City Cakes, and all our volunteers for making this picnic a blast for all who attended. – Alex Harrington
Oftentimes, one life can make the greatest of differences in many others. Sometimes, that difference is so keenly felt by many, but no one can know how truly powerful that effect is. For Teri Iverson, the Southern Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, that life belonged to Steven Petersen.
Steven started his path with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah in a pretty unusual place. He walked into a bar where Teri worked as a waitress with a big group of friends. Teri mentioned to them how they could volunteer as Big Brothers at BBBSU. Everyone in the group laughed it off as nothing more than a crazy idea. Everyone except Steven, that is.
He went on to be a Big Brother to several kids. As wonderful as the commitments that he made were, they were not the only reason that Steven made such an impression on Teri. “(Steven) recruited his girlfriend, his roommate, and his friends,” she said. “He recruited about 15 people over the course of the time I’ve known him.”
As important as doing volunteer work is, almost more important is spreading the word and leading others to volunteer as well. Each of the people that Steven influenced went on to become Big Brothers and Big Sisters for their respective matches and changed lives because of it. Each of these people are responsible for a wonderful change in the lives of the kids they helped, but the driving force that led them to their commitments was Steven’s willingness to open up and take a chance to invite someone to share in the volunteer experience.
The work that Steven did inspired Teri in many ways, as she expressed in a poem she wrote on her personal blog. “Because one young man named Steven opened his heart and inspired groups of people, children’s lives were changed for the better, forever,” she wrote. “Because of Steven the world is a little brighter for all of us.” Steven would never admit it, but the work he has done created a great ripple of change in the lives of so many.
Teri has worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah for many years, but it’s clear that Steven has a special place in her heart. Because of him, she knows the extent of the powerful change people like Steven can make. She said, “People [often] think, ‘What is the world coming to?’ But I see college kids doing this kind of work, and I think, ‘We’re in pretty good hands.’” – Alex Harrington
Learn how you can become a Big influence on a child’s life. LEARN MORE