SIDNEY — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby & Darke County continues to focus on its mission to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Their vision is for all children to achieve success in life.
“In 2018, Big Brothers Big Sisters launched a national rebranding transformation with new logo, imaging, colors, message, and more,” said Jennifer Bruns, executive director. “Rebranding research indicated declining numbers of children served which led to the urgent need to reposition, refocus, and reevaluate. The goal of the brand transformation is to raise awareness of their vital mission, strengthen the national federation and local affiliates, recruit more volunteers with an emphasis on men, and serve more children and increase positive outcomes by matching them with an adult who will empower them to reach their fullest potential.”
Overall, 371 children were served by the agency during 2018 through their community-based and school-based programs. The agency closed out 2018 serving approximately 121 children in their core community-based program. With this program, adult “Bigs” are matched with “Littles” to provide a positive and encouraging mentoring relationship with a child. The agency currently has 20 children in Shelby County and 8 children in Darke County who are ready and waiting to be matched, and community members are urgently needed to get involved.
Their after-school “Big Buddies” mentoring program consists of 203 participants. Big Buddies is a nine-month commitment where high school students volunteer two times per month to mentor elementary students. During these meetings, high school students, under the supervision of Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, work with one or two children on different educational and recreational activities. For the 2018-19 school year, the curriculum is entitled “Mindfulness: Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies” and focuses on brain development, social & emotional growth, nutrition, and exercise. Current Big Buddies programs are available at Longfellow, Northwood, Emerson, and Whittier Elementary Schools in Sidney; and Ansonia, Versailles and Greenville Elementary Schools in Darke County.
Their Career Quest program, in conjunction with Sidney High School’s Opportunity School, is a mentoring program where 39 credit-deficient students are paired with 30 adult mentors to help them get on track for graduation. Mentors are trained through Rhodes State College and meet with students on a weekly basis. The mentors are helping students build positive character and resiliency, all while preparing them for productive future careers.
They also offer a “Lunch Buddies” program at Jackson Center Elementary School where adult community members have lunch every Wednesday with an assigned second- or third-grade student. During their lunches together, fulfilling relationships are formed and time is set aside to help improve the child’s social and academic skills. The agency currently serves eight children in this program, and volunteers are greatly needed.
Approximately 20 percent of the operating funds for both counties are derived from partnerships with Shelby County and Darke County United Way agencies. Additional sources of revenue come from grants and fundraisers. Bowl for Kids’ Sake is a nationally-recognized Big Brothers Big Sisters fundraiser, and it will be held locally on March 1-2 at Bel-Mar Lanes in Sidney and Treaty Lanes in Greenville. This event is open to the public and allows community members, businesses, and organizations to form bowling teams and compete against one another. Each team member collects donations to help reach the $53,000 goal.
Their 13th Annual Duck Derby & Duck-N-Run 5K fundraiser will be held June 20 at Tawawa Park in Sidney. This event is open to the public as well, and allows individuals to “adopt” ducks that will race down Tawawa Park’s Mosquito Creek followed by a 5K race through scenic Tawawa Park. In 2018, the agency launched 3,138 rubber ducks and the first place duck and its owner took home a $1,000 cash prize.
More information about services provided by the agency, volunteer opportunities, community fundraisers, and ways to provide financial support can be found at www.bigbrobigsis-shelbydarke.org.