Taking on new challenges and giving back…

Over the last 2 years I’ve been a big brother through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area.  My little, Jehlan, is 11 years old and loves pretty much everything that you would expect an 11 year old boy to love, video games, Dave and Busters, McDonalds, and fishing.  We just went fishing for the first time yesterday, and let me just say… I think I need some practice.  Not so much a catching fish experience… more of a looking at a fishing pole and untangling fishing wire from trees experience.  I met Jehlan because he was signed up for Big Brothes Big Sisters through a state grant called the MCOP (Mentoring Children of incarcerated Parents) grant.  It is through this $500,000 state contribution that children like Jehlan, who come from somewhat adverse backgrounds, have the opportunity to get matched with a big brother or sister.  Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago, this grant was cut by the state of California.  Big Brothers Big Sisters lost nearly 1/3 of its annual budget due to this cut (YIKES!).  I was asked by Big Brothers Big Sisters to participate in an interview sharing my experience with Jehlan, and help gain some exposure to the immediate need for fundraising.  Its not every day that one is asked to be a spokes person for such a venerable cause, so when I got the email I jumped.  The article that was written can be seen HERE .

More importantly than sharing my little interview story, I wanted to discuss the issue of fundraising.  In addition to being a Big, I am also a part of a group called the Young Professionals Committee, South Bay which is a subsidiary of BBBSBA focused on organizing social events meant to raise money to go towards new matches within the program.   Two months ago, I was “elected” as president of this group (hard to be “elected” when I was the only one nominated!) and now have the responsibility of helping lead and encourage a group of uber talented and enthusiastic individuals to plan social events throughout the year all with the end goal of raising some massive cheddar to take a bite out of that budget cut.  I’ve never lead a group… I’ve never led fund raisers… I’ve never been a manager, so this is all a bit new to me and somewhat intimidating at times (I have however thrown a heck of a Bay To Breakers Party, so Im going to exploit those talents as much as I possibly can!).  I think I was asked to be president because I was always the one that would throw out ridiculous ideas during meetings that just seemed over the top, but in situations like this, over the top might just be what we need to raise some significant money.  BTW… if anyone has connections at the Fairmont in San Francisco, I’d love to rent out their presidential suite and throw a BALLER party there (think, Entourage meets SF), of which you will of course pay premium price (*** all for BBBSBA***) to attend.  Suit up, baby!  Ahhh, I digress.

When thinking about how we’re going to raise the self imposed goal of $100,000 (up from our earnings of ~$10,000 last year)… I cant help but believe that speaking up and spreading the word will be the most effective way to reach the people needed to make such great strides towards making a significant contribution.  That is why I’m writing this blog.  I feel as though if we can get one or two people to read this, with the appropriate connections, we can make some big ol’ wheels turn, (like 28″ spinners! Hollerrr!!!!) and thats what its all about.  If this post can just get a few additional people to read my invitations to upcoming YPC events, then its worthwhile.  My plan is to occasionally share my experience with the YPC over the next year.  Again, this is a massive learning process for me, and I think sharing it with whoever reads this blog would be one way I can help gain some exposure for the group.  So, prepare yourselves, if you dont want to see any more updates about the YPC and Big Brothers Big Sisters un-friend me now!  Its a comin’!

I wanted to leave this blog post with a few facts provided by Marcia Hodges, CEO of BBBSBA.  This will give you an idea of why Big Brothers Big Sisters is so important, and the effect that a $500,000 loss can have on such a program.  So with that, read on, and please consider attending one of our upcoming events when I start spamming you with event invitations.  Your contribution and social swagger is always appreciated!

From an email titled “BBBSBA Scorecard”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area’s (BBBSBA) evidence-based mentoring programs help children improve their performance at school, avoid gang activity and drug use, and sets them on a path to achieve their potential. Despite facing unprecedented economic challenges, in the past 12 months BBBSBA has been able to sustain program service levels thanks to YOUR DONOR and VOLUNTEER INVESTMENTS in our program. Thank you so very much for helping us to Start Something BIG for Bay Area kids!

Cost Per Match
Our average match length is 28.1 months – far exceeding the national BBBS average of 21 months (the longer the match, the deeper the impact).

  • It costs approximately $2,000 to make and support a match in the first year
  • $1,500 is the cost each subsequent year the match stays together
  • 1,310 volunteers provided more than 6,550 hours of volunteer service
  • Donor support funds our programs – all services continue to be provided at no cost to enrolled children/families

Your Donations allow BBBSBA to:

  • Process and screen more than 1,000 enrollment applications each year
  • Conduct one-on-one interviews with every child, parent/guardian and mentor to ensure the match is a great “fit”
  • Facilitate meetings to introduce “Littles” to their new Big Brother or Big Sister
  • Host workshops and trainings
  • Provide each match with on-going, professional support to help the relationships thrive and last as long as possible
Program Statistics:
In the past 12 months, BBBSBA provided a total of 1,105 children (ie: “Littles”) with caring adult mentors (i.e. “Bigs”):

  • 56% boys / 44% girls
  • 85% live in low-income households
  • 21% are in foster care
  • 19% have an incarcerated parent

Demand for Services:
We made a total of 364 new matches. More than 1,000 children remain on our waiting list

  • 85% of children waiting are boys
  • 41% are Latino
Quality Metrics:
Surveys of mentors and parents/guardians whose Little had been matched 12 months or more said:

  • 86% improved self-confidence
  • 93% improved peer relationships
  • 81% improved attitudes towards school
  • 92% improved their ability to avoid using physical violence
  • 83% improved thier outlook for the future
  • Alissa Zimmerman - February 29, 2012 - 7:42 pm

    You are an amazing person, Colson. Cheers to you and all you do– such a rarity now a days.ReplyCancel

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