Each year, we choose six deserving non-profit organizations to receive proceeds from meter change and parking tickets. We’re proud to share that our first partner for 2018 is Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Central Ohio!
BBBS of Central Ohio is all about mentoring! They match caring volunteers with kids facing adversity to provide professionally-supported, structured mentoring relationships that have a measurable positive impact on their youth, their mentors and our community. We sat down with Mary Palkowski, the Big Brothers Big Sisters assistant vice president of marketing and PR, to learn more about the amazing work they’re doing in our local community.
We heard you have a big event coming up. Tell us more!
Bowl for Kids’ Sake is an annual event that has been around for more than 30 years! It’s essentially a big “thank you” party for all of the people who have been raising money leading up to the event. Participants go out and get donations to support BBBS of Central Ohio for a couple of months prior to the event, and then head to Columbus Square Bowling Palace on Saturday, February 10 for a day of fun with their bowling teams! With free concessions, face painters and balloon artists, this family-friendly event is a great way to support a good cause and have a fun afternoon with the kids. If you would like to join more than 1,500 bowlers who are collecting donations to help Big Brothers Big Sisters make a difference in the lives of central Ohio children, click here.
What is the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio?
To provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Big Brothers Big Sisters helps close the opportunity gap that exists for far too many kids in our community.
What do you love about being a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio and what do you want people to know about the organization?
I think everyone who is a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio staff is here because we believe in our mission. We know that this agency is doing amazing things to help kids that are facing adversity. When you work for an organization that has a mission you believe in, it makes your work truly fulfilling.
What type of work does Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio do on a day-to-day basis?
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio served more than 7,100 children last year through one-to-one mentoring programs and our Camp Oty’Okwa in the Hocking Hills. Our mentoring model is unique because we go through the process of matching children to caring adult mentors, and then we stay close to the child, the family and the big brother/sister throughout the entire match relationship – which can be years in many cases. Our staff is often on the phone contacting families, out at schools connecting with children and in homes getting to know their families to help support the match relationship. We know through research that longer, stronger matches are the ones that have the most impact, which is why our staff is dedicated to developing those steady relationships.
What sort of activities or events does your charity organize?
Aside from Bowl for Kids’ Sake, we have a number of different fundraising events, mentor and mentee training sessions and special activities that help foster their relationships. From formal galas and holiday parties to golf outings and anniversary activities for match milestones, we work hard to ensure our matches continue to bond and grow together. Every summer, we also have a Big Little Match Celebration that we invite all of our matches to for a day of games and fun where the littles can connect with their mentors.
The big brothers and big sisters in our community-based program meet with their mentees out in the community to bond through activities like visiting museums and attractions in the area, taking a walk, riding bikes and doing research at local libraries. In our school-based program, where kids meet with their mentors at school only, one of our professional staff members goes to the program each week with an activity that the matches can do together. Activities are designed to strengthen the match relationship and build the child’s academic, social and emotional competencies.
Additionally, we’re the only BBBS agency in the country that owns a year-round residential camp. Camp Oty’Okwa is a 700+ acre camp we use to put on environmental education and group mentoring programs where our kids can gather to bond, build self-confidence, make decisions and learn how to work in a group.
What have been some of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio’s biggest accomplishments in the past five years?
In the last several years, we’ve really been stepping up our efforts to get connected with the families of our littles. This not only helps strengthen the match relationship, but also surfaces issues that could be affecting the child. Sometimes, if we have a strong enough relationship with the family, we can better understand some issues that are impacting the child’s ability to succeed in life and find ways to support them through BBBS or partner resources.
What does it mean to be a part of Easton’s Change for Charity program?
It means a lot to us on many levels. I think Change for Charity is a particularly great program for BBBS to be involved in because we can reach a huge part of the community through it. Many people in Columbus might not even know about us, but when they see the signage at Easton and understand that some of their money is going to support our work, they might be inspired to get involved in other ways. The visibility across Easton, as well as the extra funding we will receive to keep our program running, are very important to us.
How does your organization plan to use the funds it raises from the Change for Charity program?
The funds we raise will be used directly to help our kids. Whether it’s making more matches or ensuring our existing matches have as much positive impact as possible, the Easton Change for Charity donations will be supporting these efforts and processes.
Other than participating in Change for Charity, how can people support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio?
They can get involved with some of our events like Bowl for Kids’ Sake, volunteer to become a big brother or big sister, and support third-party events from other organizations who use their proceeds to donate back to BBBS of Central Ohio. For example, World of Beer at Easton donated 10% of sales on February 2 to our organization. We encourage everyone to follow Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on future restaurant day fundraisers and events.
If you’re interested in getting involved with or supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio but don’t know where to start, visit their booth at Easton on February 9 from 4-7 PM for recruitment day!