Dear friends, advocates and allies,
Over the past year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan experienced unprecedented change because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of your support for mentoring is outlined in our 2020 Annual Report.
Our Littles and their families were, and continue to be, disproportionately impacted by the pandemic’s negative ramifications. Closing our doors or limiting our services was not, and will never be, an option.
In response, we embarked on a journey to create a community-centric mentoring model. We increased our program accessibility, visibility, recruitment, and outreach. In addition, we restructured in June 2020 to ensure fiscal responsibility and responded to the need for virtual services to continue meeting the needs of our Bigs, Littles and their families.
CRITICAL MENTORING SERVICES
BBBSMI echoed the resilience of the children and youth in Kalamazoo, Allegan, Calhoun and Van Buren counties. We immediately adapted to virtual programming and operations. Since March of 2020 our office has worked remotely to implement online program support and services. This includes match support, match interviews, match introductions, volunteer training, board and staff meetings, events, and more.
In addition to providing critical mentoring services, our staff bolstered direct support to our Littles and their families. We connected them to critical resources such as food distribution, technology, housing assistance, and mental health resources. Our priority has always been to ensure the safety and well-being of our Littles. We will continue supporting them and their families in this way going forward.
The present moment will persist in shaping Littles’ lives. The impact of COVID-19, the movement for racial justice and the thousands of educational hours lost make it that much more challenging for our youth to navigate the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Matching a mentor, an additional caring role model, to a child is one way we can support and empower the resilience of the next generation of leaders in Southwest Michigan.
The call to action is more important and urgent than ever before. Youth need strong mentors and even stronger networks to continue working to achieve their goals.
You make their bright future possible. Allies, like you, propel us forward even now. Bigs are providing comfort, stability, accountability, and guidance to youth. Board and committee members have engaged their networks to continue strengthen us, while donors ensure our work persists.
As we continue igniting the potential of youth through mentorship this year, we are deeply grateful for your commitment and support of our mission. You inspire our work and serve alongside us to lift up our community, one child at a time.
With immense gratitude and appreciation,
CEO and Big Sister to Chloe