KEEPING KIDS CONNECTED
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan is working remotely to help support our Littles and their families. Our team serves as a hub for hundreds of families—providing resources for those who may be affected by loss of income, food insecurity, lack of healthcare, and anxiety due to the uncertainties related to COVID-19. We're also working closely with our Bigs and our community to ensure we continue to ignite the potential of local youth by keeping kids connected to the important additional caring role models in their lives.
YOU CAN IGNITE THE POWER AND POTENTIAL OF LOCAL CHILDREN
We can't begin to fully understand how COVID-19 will impact the youngest in our community. Even with current social distancing guidelines our staff are encouraging matches to meet digitally, providing ideas and support for doing so, and connecting with families and connecting families to resources to make sure their needs are met.
For over 60 years, BBBS has been providing this high quality and important service to Southwest Michigan families. It continues to be critical during these uncertain times and will continue after the pandemic passes. Experience and evidence-based research tells us our programs will be even more critical once the pandemic passes.
How does Big Brothers Big Sisters help Kasaius?
When Big Brothers Big Sisters works to match a Little with a Big, we take into account the needs, personality, interests, and goals of both the child and the adult volunteer. We introduce the Little and his or her family to the Big slowly and make sure everyone is fully committed to the match before it is made official. Little Brother Kasaius is outgoing and up for anything, so he needed a Big who was creative and had a variety of interests.
Children like Kasaius get the most out of their one-to-one relationship with their Big when the Big, the parent or guardian, and the child talk openly with their Match Support Specialist. Working as part of the team helping the child succeed, the Match Support Specialist can help identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and connect the family with essential services.
When Kasaius’ Big Brother saw the email from BBBS saying that there were spots open in a free acting class, he jumped at the chance to take Kasaius. BBBS affiliates across the country provide activities for Bigs and Littles and also alert Bigs to opportunities in the community. This enables Bigs to get to know other Bigs, who might be experiencing similar things and who might have great suggestions for more new activities.
Screening and Training
Child safety is Big Brothers Big Sisters’ highest priority. To achieve the highest standards possible, we work constantly to review and strengthen our background check systems as new best practices in the industry emerge. We also make sure our Bigs and our staff have the training and resources they need to help Littles on their path to success.
Black Heroes Round Up
In celebration of Black History Month, BBBS featured 18 Local Black Heroes. Meet these Black leaders and trail blazers here.
Celebrating Local Black Heroes: Layla Wallace
Layla Wallace is a community-minded high school student and entrepreneur. With every sweet treat sold, Layla’s Cool Pops gives back.
Celebrating Local Black Heroes: Stacey Randolph Ledbetter
Captain Stacey Randolph Ledbetter (ret) was Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety’s first Black woman sergeant, lieutenant, then captain. Now retired from the force, her drive and current anti-racism work create a safer community for all.
Jahdal Johnson (aka DJ Conscious) is a father and entrepreneur. His purpose in life is to motivate and inspire others to be the best version of themselves.
Keep watching after his interview for a short set and hear DJ Conscious’ artistry!
Von Washington Jr. is the Executive Director of Community Relations for the Kalamazoo Promise. He tries his best everyday to help somebody, in some kind of way, no matter how small.
Josephine Brown is the retired Director of Human Resources for Kalamazoo County. Southwest Michigan is more just and equitable because of her anti-racism work.
Deveta Gardner is an Associate Dean at WMU and has been a cheer coach for decades. She recognizes herself as “a seed planter” for local youth, “listening, challenging, and holding accountable.”