Thursday, December 29, 2016

Defeating the Post-Holiday Lull with Your Little

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When the holiday season comes to a close, it can be pretty disappointing to some kids. The weather is still cold, summer is months away, and it seems like there is nothing fun to do. We blogged in November about Winter fun focusing around the holidays: building a fire, making decorations, and finding ways to give back to your community. Those are all still relevant after the giving season, but what about some good old fashioned Minnesota Winter fun? We’ve made a list of some fun indoor and outdoor winter activities to enjoy with your Little:

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Image by Wheresmysocks at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons

Attend a Winter Festival

If you and your Little are up for a road trip, there are tons of winter festivals going on around the state. The always popular St. Paul Winter Carnival takes place January 26th-February 5th, celebrating its 131st year! If you’ve never seen Minnesota’s ugliest fish, you might find some surprising fun at the International Eelpout Festival February 23-26th. Taking place on Leech Lake in Walker, MN, this unique festival will surely be a talking point for you and your Little! Check out Minnesota Native Andrew Zimmern’s favorite winter festivals for more inspiration.


Check out Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria

Voted 2016’s best family resort and waterpark, Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minnesota features 38,000 square feet of indoor water park fun. It includes three four-story water slides, a lazy river, a hot tub, and tons of water-related activities for your Little. View the full waterpark calendar here. For the older kids, rent a snowmobile or cross-country skis, ice skate, ice fish, or go sledding! There are tons of winter recreational activities at this all-inclusive site.



Attend a Hockey Game

Sure, the Minnesota Wild are always crowd-pleasers, but tickets are expensive and the trip to the stadium can be long and inconvenient. There are plenty of fun and exciting teams to watch right around central Minnesota this winter. The St. Cloud State Huskies are always fun to watch, and the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center is a sight to behold for the area. In the NA3HL league, check out the Granite City Lumberjacks, who play in Sports Arena East at the Benton County Fairgrounds.


Area Fun Closer to Home

If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, check out funforkidsmn.com. There you’ll find fun ideas such as open skate times at the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex, Playtime at Lake George Municipal Complex, KinderGym at the Whitney Senior Center, Open Gym at the North Crest Kids Activity Center in Sauk Rapids, and many more fun activities for winter and beyond!


There are tons of fun activities for you and your little this Winter. Keep away the post-holiday blues by having even more fun! After all, the Holidays aren’t the only thing that makes the season bright.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Not All Superheroes Wear Capes

Seeing Dave Fritz walk down the street probably wouldn’t concern you unless you know him. If you did, you’d probably say hello and he’d smile. If you didn’t, he’d say hello and you’d smile. He’s a guy that has that effect on people. You’ll leave his company feeling better about your day, completely unaware that that is his superpower; making people happy.

You’d also be completely unaware that underneath his sweatshirt and jeans, he’s wearing a cape and there’s a large “B” on his chest that stands for “BIG”. Dave Fritz, family man, business owner, Big Brother.
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For those that aren’t aware of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, it is, as Dave says, “a really cool opportunity” both for the mentee and the mentor. “I came to the program thinking, ‘This kid can learn a lot from me.’, but I found that’s not the case. I have learned just as much from him as he has from me.” says Fritz.

“I’ve been a BIG to Jaylen for 5 ½ years. At when we were first paired together we would spend between two and five hours together once a week. Now that he’s older and working a job of his own, and we (Dave and his wife) have a new baby, we don’t see each other as often as we’d like, but I make it a point to get together a couple of times a month.”

Fritz is just one of the men in the Central Minnesota area to volunteer his time to make a difference in a child’s life, but the need is much greater than one man can handle on his own. Nearly 70% of all children on the Big Brothers Big Sisters waiting list are boys and, unfortunately, wait an average of 304 days before getting matched with a BIG. It’s time to Man Up, Minnesota.

“He’s definitely pushed my coward button, though. We went to the pet store one day when Jaylen was about 11 and he wanted to hold the tarantula. He looked at me with the tarantula in his hand and asked me if I wanted to hold it. How am I, a 30-year-old man at the time, going to say no to an 11-year-old boy holding a tarantula in his hand? He’s made me ride rides at Valleyfair and jump off the cliffs at the quarries.”

Fritz, an avid baseball fan, has taken his Little to Twins games, Mall of America, movies, golfing and bowling among many other adventures. “My favorite memory with Jaylen was taking him to my family’s cabin. It was an opportunity to teach him a bit more about my family history.”

It’s not all about going out to do things, though. Many Littles would be happy spending time with you at your home or theirs. Fritz said that Jaylen has helped them put in their garden in the summer.

“Kids are smarter than you think. When it comes to kids you’ve got to keep your wits about you. They’re going to push you. Find out what they can get away with and what their boundaries are. You’re going to have to come up with new ways to communicate and still get through to them.  Jaylen has taught me patience and that has transferred to my work. He’s taught me how to be a better worker.”

All at 16 years old. How cool is that?



For more information about becoming a mentor and how you can Man Up, visit Doalotforalittle.org or contact Rachel Johnson at 320-258-4537.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Winter Fun with Your Little

The holiday season is almost here. Some people might dread the colder season, but there are still plenty of opportunities to have fun with your Little. Celebrate the season with some winter-themed fun:
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Give Back to Your Community
Being a Big is about more than just having fun. Since it is the season of giving and giving thanks, why not give back to the community around you? One great place you and your Little can volunteer is the St. Cloud Salvation Army. Whether you have a specific talent to offer or simply an hour of your time, The Salvation Army is the place to turn your passion into action. For more information about volunteering see the Salvation Army Volunteer Opportunity page.

Build a Fire
Need a way to warm up this holiday season? Try building a fire! Unconventional yet fun, this is a great time to spend with your Little. If there is snow on the ground, you can make it even more fun by building seating around your fire pit. Stack the snow high all around your fire then pack it down and add a backrest.  Enjoy the cold with a snow bench and a warm fire and some hot chocolate.
 
Have an Indoor Snowball Fight
If it’s too chilly to go outside, bring the fun indoors. Have your own indoor snowball fight. Make paper balls, roll socks into a ball, sew your own snowballs. Warmer and much cleaner, indoor snowball fights can be just as fun!
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Make Some Cool Winter Crafts
Winter crafts can be a ton of fun! Try your hand at igloo building (using sugar cubes, not snow) or break out the construction paper to make good old-fashioned paper snowflakes. You could even make your own snow globe to help get you in the holiday spirit! Check out more fun holiday crafts at handsonaswegrow.com.
Make Winter Decorations
It’s cold outside, so spend the afternoon indoors making festive winter crafts. Design and create your own winter wreath and decorate them with ornaments. Freeze your favorite winter objects in a layer of ice to decorate the outdoors with ice ornaments. Crafting ideas are endless in the winter. Think about your Little’s favorite activities and check Pinterest for more ideas.

This Holiday season can be a ton of fun! Get out and enjoy them! Make the most of the time with your Little this holiday season. For more tips and winter activities, check the Big Brothers Big Sisters Facebook page.




Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bowl For Kids' Sake 2016

Have you been looking for a fun way to give back to your community? Gather some friends and sign up for this year’s Bowl For Kids’ Sake benefitting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. The event takes place October 7th and 8th at Southway Bowl in St. Cloud, and October 11th, 13th, and 14th at Great River Bowl in Sartell. There are a few different ways to get involved in this event:

Bowl With Your Team

The minimum pledge per bowler is $50, but we encourage you to get as many pledges as possible! Your pledge gives you free bowling and shoes during your designated sign-up time. Best of all, you’ll be entered to win some fabulous prizes from J.F. Kruse Jewelry, Luther Honda of St. Cloud, Scheels, and more! The drawing will take place on October 24th.


Sponsor The Event

There are four sponsorship levels to choose from, ranging from the $500 Bronze Ball Sponsor to the $2,500+ Bold Strike Sponsor. General Manager at McDowall Company (a Silver Spare Sponsor) and long-time volunteer Karen Athmann was asked about her experience supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota. “I have always enjoyed working with kids and this organization makes such a positive impact on the youth today, and they share so many different opportunities on how we can make a positive impact on a young child,” says Athmann. She has been on the Bowl for Kid’s Sake committee since 2012. She says she was encouraged to participate by volunteer Shari Wahlin and says she has been “hooked” ever since.


 Volunteer

Karen’s involvement in Bowl For Kids’ Sake includes, as she says, “Working with an amazing group of volunteers on the BFKS committee, where we collaborate together by networking with community businesses to gain sponsorships, prizes, participation, and fundraising for the event. Also just spreading the word out about what BBBS does for our community.” There are many different ways to volunteer during the events: you can help decorate, hand out prizes, sell raffle tickets and more.

Karen says her favorite part of the event is the bowling. “It is a wonderful experience to see people of all ages come together and truly enjoy each other’s company while raising awareness and funds for the youth in our communities, who simply need a role model in their day to day lives.”


Donate

If you cannot make the event, but would still like to show your support, you can donate items to be awarded as prizes during the event. These can be products, services, certificates, or cash contributions.

If you would like to have fun while helping a good cause, check out this year’s Bowl For Kids’ Sake sign-up times. To claim your team’s spot, call 320-253-1616 or email kpettus@bbbscentralmn.org. You can also register on-line. Time slots will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.


As Karen says, “It is a small fee to pay and a short amount of time to take out of our busy lives that makes such a powerful impact on the kids who otherwise would not be given the opportunity to have someone paired up with them who is spending time with just them and who cares enough to call them their big brother or big sister.”


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Golf Fore Kids Sake


We recently held the 10th annual Golf Fore Kids Sake tournament and it went really well. Nearly 130 golfers participated and all proceeds from the tournament went to BBBS. The day was a beautiful 85 degrees and the golfers had a great time playing at the Territory Golf Course.

The children in the photos (see below) are Littles who participated in our Little Putt activity. They each had a chance to interact with the golfers and putt for them - it was really sweet watching the golfers teach them how to putt!

One of the Capital One teams came in first place with the lowest team score in the tournament. One of the Godzala Brenny teams came in second place. The other Godzala Brenny team came in last place, but that's ok - they won free golf lessons!

A good time was had by all - looking forward to doing it again next year!









Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Becoming a Big: Aaron’s Experience

Big Brothers Big Sisters believes that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. The mission of BBBS is to make meaningful, professionally supported matches between caring mentors and children ages 5 through 16.

The enrollment process of becoming a Big includes four steps. The first step is attending the informational session at BBBS and learning what becoming a Big is all about. After your informational session, you complete an online application, an in-person interview, and a background check.

Currently, Big Brothers Big Sisters is at 111 kids waiting to be matched with a big - an all-time high. Aaron Moore shares his experience as a Big in hopes that you can decrease the list of kids waiting for a mentor.

Aaron applied to become a Big in November 2015 and has been matched with his Little Brother since February 2016. He describes being a Big as “essentially being a positive role model for a child. It’s about providing input when they seek answers and about leading them down a positive path when they walk the wrong way.”

“When becoming a Big, you sit in an interview to discover your likes and dislikes. My Little and I were paired after the team at BBBS looked through all our information,” says Aaron.

Moore states, “We are both very active. We like to play tag, catch, and we even create our own games to play. We also enjoy participating in BBBS sponsored events like the one at AirMaxx.”

The mentoring program at BBBS provides support to its matches by offers monthly activities and supplying donated tickets to attend sporting events.

“It comes to be around 4 hours a month”, says Moore, “I see my Little once a week during the school year. We communicate and participate in events during the summer.” Spending time with his Little involves working around his own schedule and that of his Little to find a time that works for them both.

Aaron said his favorite part about being a Big is that “it allows me to witness how things may have been if I continued my pursuit of a career working with children. My first major was Elementary Education, but my plans changed. Luckily, I got involved with BBBS, and I get to experience what life may have been like.”

Through the BBBS program, Aaron said he has learned to have patience. It has also taught him, “Listening is important and you won’t always have the right answers. Yet, you do the best you can, and life will work itself out.”

If you are wondering whether becoming a Big is right for you, attend one of our Informational Sessions to learn what becoming a Big is all about. Aaron said if you are on the fence about become a Big you should, “Take time to decide if this is something you can commit to. These kids have been waiting months, sometimes years, to be matched with a Big. The time commitment is short, but the commitment you make to support your Little is so much greater.”

For more information on becoming a Big visit our website Big Brother Big Sisters of Central MN.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Helping Your Little Prepare for College and a Career



Is it ever too early to start thinking about college and a career? Most of us started when we were little with dreams of becoming firefighters, police officers, or even the President. As we grow up, we realize that finding the perfect career is much more difficult than our daydreams made it seem. There are a lot of factors that go into being accepted into college, paying for it, and finding a career that you love.

One of our goals is to help you help your Little transition from high school to college with ease. A big part of that transition is planning! Here are a few things to help your Little consider as they prepare for college:


1. Finances:
College is expensive; there is no doubt about that but is definitely worth the cost. The sooner a student starts making a plan the less overwhelming it will be when the time comes. Help your Little to understand the importance of making a plan for their future.


2. GPA:
Grade Point Average is a major influence toward which college a student can get into and it’s something that your Little should be paying attention to as soon as possible. Good study habits are formed early in life, and should be promoted when students are in middle school or sooner.


3. Classes
Maybe your Little isn’t quite at the age where he or she can pick their own classes, but when the time comes, help them to understand that colleges don’t just look at the grade they get, but the class they took to earn that grade. Help them understand that they should use high school as an exploratory tool. PSEO classes are a fantastic option to save money and start a college career as well. If your Little is open to it, research PSEO options with them.


4. Scholarships:
There are thousands and thousands of scholarships out there, you just have to search for them and put in the time and effort to fill them out. Scholarship acceptance comes from a student’s combined GPA, volunteer hours, community service, career choice and more. Help your Little research some scholarship options open to them and help them beef up their applications. We are also fortunate enough to be able to offer scholarships!

Federated Challenge Scholarship
WWBD Memorial Scholarship
Big Brothers Big Sisters Nursing Scholarship





5. ACT
Students everywhere dread the awful 4-hour prerequisite test for college. It isn’t fun, but it’s something college applicants have to do and it is something that should be taken seriously. There are tons of ACT practice sites and study aids that can help out. It might not be the most fun, but your Little will thank you for the help when their score comes in the mail.

It is important to take these factors into consideration to help your Little start saving money, have an idea of classes they’d like to take, and start high school with the mentality to study hard and keep their GPA up all 4 years.

If you are looking for more ways to get your Little thinking about the future, we invite you and your Little to attend the Career Exploration Night at St. Cloud Community and Technical College on June 21st. There, your Little can learn all about many different career opportunities right on campus. BBBS will also be taking a bus up to Brainerd for the Central Lakes College Tour and Safari North Wildlife Park on June 28th. This will be a fun way for your Little to learn about the college, visit Central Lakes college campus, eat some pizza - even visit the wildlife park!



Thursday, May 26, 2016

Even More Rainy Day Activities For You and Your Little

There are few things more fulfilling in life than witnessing the positive impact you can have on others - especially on kids. Whether you just signed up or you have been a mentor for years, it can still be difficult to find new, fun activities for you and your little - especially on days when you are stuck indoors. In the past, we’ve written about how you and your Little can make the most out of a rainy day. These activities are fun and easy for younger kids, but as they get older, it can be hard to pull a kid off the couch and away from their devices. This time, let’s focus our rainy day activity ideas toward the older kids:


A Day at the Movies

Your Little has most likely seen all the newest blockbusters (maybe some more than a few times), but have they ever watched Singin’ In the Rain or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? How about Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music? Find your favorite childhood movies and have your own film festival - complete with popcorn, pop, and candies.


Pamper Yourselves

Set up a foot spa (or two tubs of hot water) and start your own salon and spa with your little. Check out this recipe for a homemade skin scrub that you can make together. Give yourselves manicures, pedicures, and face masks, and enjoy a nice cup of tea or cocoa. You Little will enjoy feeling like an adult for an afternoon!


Make Something Together

Everyone likes to create. Just because your Little is a tween, doesn’t mean they won’t get plenty of enjoyment out of an afternoon filled with marshmallow shooters, paper airplanes, or your own t-shirts! Need help finding more ideas? Tinkercrate mails fun experiments and projects to your doorstep every month.

Learn Something New

Science experiments are always fun - who doesn’t enjoy the classic baking soda/vinegar volcano? As kids get older, they want to know why thing react the way they do. Take some time to develop a few science experiments with your Little and learn something new. Some experiments to try out include:

Kids are getting hard to entertain. It can be so much easier to plop them in front of a television, video game console, or electronic device, but hopefully, you’ve had some inspiration from this list. There are tons more activities on Pinterest that you and your Little can explore together.



For more tips on activities you can do with your Little, check out our Facebook page.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Magic Moments Gala and Man-Up 2016 Recap

At Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, all great things never come to an end- rather, they continue working to build a better community for the future. As the Magic Moments Gala and the Man-Up campaign come to an end, we couldn’t be more thrilled with the success! Members of our community stepped up and worked together to find a match for our Littles. Here is a recap of our recent success:


The 2016 Magic Moments Gala turned out to be a huge success for the Big Brothers Big Sisters team once again. Over the last few years, we have learned that people value an experience more than items, so we teamed up with Black Diamond Auctions to create a fun and engaging auctioning experience.
Shari Wahlin was thrilled to share her take on the success:
The evening was a BIG success for children facing adversity in our community. The positive energy and purposeful unity of our guests and supporters were inspiring. With the help of sponsors, volunteers, and attendees who support our kids through the Magic Moments Gala, we grossed $200,000 for our program in addition to sparking the interest of several new potential mentors. Big Brothers Big Sisters would not exist without the support of our caring community members. Together, we can lead children on a path towards a brighter, more promising future.

Nearly 70% of the children on our waiting list are boys, yet only 1 out of 5 new volunteers are men, which is why the 2016 Man-Up Campaign was created. Boys in the program wait an average of 304 days before receiving a Big Brother. This year, we teamed up with the local community to make a change! BBBS started with the goal of partnering 100 men in 100 days. Rachel Johnson, a recruiter and one of the leads on this campaign, explains:
We are incredibly grateful for a community that steps up to the plate to help their youth thrive. In 100 days we were able to find 77 men and countless women who wanted to become a mentor. We have signed up several couples and families to participate as well. Not only does this strengthen our community, but it changes the lives and direction of our youth.
As we reflect on these memorable moments and achievements within the community, we can’t help but look forward to all the memories that will be made, lives that will be changed, and friendships that will last a lifetime. Thank you to all of our sponsors and community volunteers for making it all possible, and for investing your time and energy into giving back to the youth of our community.

It is never too late to become a mentor and make an impact not only in the lives of the youth but also to the community as a whole! Learn more about becoming a mentor on our website!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Benefits of Charitable Giving

As soon as we think about making a donation - whether it be dropping loose change in a jar or writing a check to a charity of your choosing - it is natural to get reservations. You might feel that money is too tight at home, or like your donation won’t make a difference - which is a completely unwarranted fear. Whether you’re interested in tax benefits or have selfless motives, you can end up getting back a lot more than you give when you donate valuable items, cash, or even your time. The emotional, psychological, and financial benefits of charitable giving offer much more satisfaction than splurging on yourself or your family. Here are the top 4 benefits you can receive from charitable giving:
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Greater Life Satisfaction:

Making a real impact on a cause you truly care about will add more meaning to your everyday life. If you are feeling stuck in life, sometimes all it takes is a simple act of giving to the community to get you back on track. Whether you are giving or receiving, a gift of any kind evokes a sense of happiness and gratitude. Robert Emmons shares the science behind how charitable giving can help to create a meaningful life. 

Increase Community Standing

 Being part of a local community organization gives you the opportunity to bring the community together to help with specific causes. If you are looking to give but are unable to spare any money, the best thing you can share is your time. Help to create community awareness and bring people together to solve local issues and create a happier place to live.
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Image by Pete via Flickr

Promote Generosity to Your Kids

Giving is contagious. The best thing you can do as a parent, role model, or public figure in your community is to give back and teach kids the importance of giving. When your kids see you donating money and time, they're much more likely to adopt a giving mindset as they grow up. 

Tax Deduction

Finally, as many already know, charitable contributions can reduce your tax burden at the end of the year. If you give to an IRS-approved charity, you can write off donations on your tax return.


If you are still feeling unsure about donating valuable items, cash, or even your time, start with the little things. Learn more about local causes and find ways that you can make a difference. Start showing up to local organization meetings and learn what they are currently doing to make a difference in the community - and don’t be afraid to share your own ideas. If you are ready to take the next step in charitable giving, check out bbbscentralmn.org to see our different volunteer options.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Top 10 One-Hour Spring Activities in Central Minnesota

With spring break right around the corner, it is important to have some ideas as to how you can keep kids busy. Luckily, Central Minnesota has a wide variety of spring activities to keep the kids learning, exploring, and having fun! Here are some ideas to give you a little inspiration:

Get Creative!

A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement. Art As You Like It offers a variety of fun classes from pottery to painting. Have fun and let your Little express themselves through an art project.

Build Something

Finishing a building project can cause a great sense of achievement for a Little. On the first Saturday of every month, the Home Depot offers FREE building classes. These classes will give your Little the opportunity to build tool boxes, fire trucks, mail organizers, birdhouses, Mother’s Day gifts, or any number of other cool projects.


Visit a Local Farm


Spring time is the perfect opportunity for your Little to see baby animals on the farm. Erickson's Petting Zoo offers a chance to feed the animal, ride the ponies, and see the goat treehouse.

Start a Garden

Spring is the perfect time to start planning out your garden. Let your Little join in the fun and create a beautiful garden this year.

Explore Local Museums

Museums are a great place to learn something new with your Little. Central Minnesota has museums for learning local facts, presidential facts, fishing facts and so much more! The Works Museum is a place that every kid should visit at least once. Your little will get to experience stacking blocks, building airplanes out of wood slats, figuring out K’Nex and pulleys and sound refraction.

Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter

Visiting the local Tri-County Humane Society can teach your Little about the importance of caring for pets. You can pet and play with the animals as well as take a tour. Shelter tours focus on humane education, and cover topics such as pet care tips, dog bite prevention and safety with animals, and pet overpopulation statistics in our community.

Get Active!

Central Minnesota offers so many great places to enjoy the nice spring weather while walking, running, biking, or rollerblading! Take a look at some of the best trails in the area.

Explore The Great Outdoors

Nothing feels better than the warm spring breeze after a cold winter. Get out and explore the new life sprouting this year. St. Cloud State University's Outdoor Endeavors can help facilitate activities for you and your Little. You can rent canoes or kayaks to paddle in the Mississippi River or bicycles to explore the nearby parks.

Check out Local Produce at a Farmers Market

Local farmers markets are a great way to show your Little the impact that farms have in the community. Farmers markets are also a great place to connect with the community and offer a chance to see where your food comes from. Bring your little to check out the St.Joe farmers market and try fresh, local food.

Let Out All Your Energy at an Indoor Park

Spring weather is unpredictable. If it’s too cold to spend the day outside exploring, try going to an indoor park! Indoor parks are a great way to release energy and have fun! Climbing High: Edinborough Indoor Park is a great way to spend time with your Little and let them get out all their energy!

There are so many fun things to do this time of year to keep your Little engaged and having fun. Find more fun ideas, visit the Fun For Kids website and don’t forget to share with us your pictures of how you spent your free time this spring!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

“You Get A Lot More Than You Give”

Bill Riner, a Big Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for 7 years, says “you get a lot more than you give” when referring to his experience with mentoring. He continues “I have had the opportunity to watch a little boy grow into a very fine, accomplished young man.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota is encouraging men in Minnesota to “Man Up” to meet the rising need for Big Brothers. The goal of the Man Up campaign is to recruit 100 male mentors in 100 days.

There is a critical need for men to volunteer. Boys comprise over 70% of the waiting list for mentors, yet only 20% of new volunteers are men. Boys in our community are waiting an average of 304 days before being matched with a Big Brother.

Being a mentor is about enjoying simple activities with your mentee. “How many senior citizens get to navigate through a straw maze, enjoy a haunted house, or spend an afternoon at a water park,” asks Riner.

“We play catch with a football and laugh about the times we’ve had together, such as when we could not get a kite to fly or the fishing trip where all we caught was cold feet,” states Riner.

The mentoring program provides ongoing guidance and support to its mentoring matches, including offering monthly activities and supplying matches with donated tickets to attend sporting events.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is currently looking for community partners to join them in the Man Up campaign. Several state and local leaders such as Senator Al Franken, St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, St. Cloud State President Earl H. Potter III, St. John’s University President Michael Hemesath, and Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, have created promotional videos for the agency offering their words of support and encouraging males to help meet the need.


Rachel Johnson, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Recruiter, says they’re hoping local businesses will also consider partnering with them to help match some of their male employees with boys looking for a Big Brother.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is available to make presentations to organizations, companies, and clubs regarding its mentoring programs and evidenced-based outcomes with children in need.

For more information about becoming a mentor, or referring a male to provide friendship and inspiration to a child, visit ManUpMN.com or contact Rachel at 320-258-4537.

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Photo 1: Big Brother Bill Riner with Little Brother Skyler Figallo in 2014

Photo 2: Big Brother Bill Riner with Little Brother Skyler Figallo in 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

It’s Time to Man Up, Minnesota!



At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we have an unfortunate problem that nearly 70% of the children on our waiting list are boys who typically wait an average of 304 days before receiving a Big Brother. We have recently launched Man Up Minnesota to give men a fun and easy opportunity to help strengthen our community by providing boys with long-term, quality mentoring that is proven to help kids who face adversity.


Jackie, the executive director of BBBS shared why they decide to do a "Man Up" campaign versus a standard recruitment campaign. “The timing was right,” says Jackie. “January is mentoring month.” We have reached out to other BBBS organizations in the country who have done similar campaigns with good results. “Our donors, committees, and board,” says Jackie, “have been asking us for something bold and aggressive to match more boys in a more favorable timeframe.” The Big Brothers Big Sisters Program is a community asset and solution when we can match mentors with kids. When we can’t do that, we fail for our community.

BBBS recruiter Rachel gave her hopes of what this campaign will bring:

Other than challenging people to do something that may be uncomfortable for them, I think that this campaign has the opportunity to build beautiful partnerships in the community. I think highlighting partnerships that we have is very important for our community to grow together. We are not only asking of people's time, but for people to help identify those who would become a great mentor. It is an all-around feel good campaign. We do hope to see numbers continue to rise after the campaign. We hope to see a young boy's life change because we were able to find him a mentor.
Rachel believes the community has received the campaign very well. “I think people see our heart behind Man Up,” she says. “We don't have a specific definition of a man or trying to tell men how to be men. We are simply asking for them to stand up and take a young man under their wing, to share life experiences and to give advice when needed.”



It is so important for people to share life together. The Central MN community has such a giving heart that they can recognize and want to help fulfill that need. Learn more about this campaign and help us make a difference in a young man’s life by becoming a big brother. Man Up Minnesota!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Mentoring from the Big's Perspective

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Mentoring comes in many different forms - you can make a difference in a young person’s life in countless ways. That is what makes becoming a Big so special. Not only is it rewarding, but it can also be simple and a lot of fun. If you have been thinking about becoming a Big, listen to some testimonials from other Big’s in Central Minnesota:

“I love playing on the playground with Brooklynn,” says Carla Griffin. “It’s so fun to use our imaginations every time we are together to laugh! Our craft adventures are quite fun, you never know what creation Brooklynn will come up with!”

There are tons of activities you can do with your little. Your imagination (and your Little’s) is the limit to the activities you can do together.

Christopher Wieland took his Little, Eric Biking the Soo Line Trail, which he says was the most fun he has had with Eric, besides working together on the same dodgeball team.


boy-909552_1280.jpgMovies, fishing and sporting events are a solid choice for Gary Stang and his Little, Carter. “We both look forward to spending time together each week,” says Gary.

Matthew Stockinger and his Little, Jason have an incredible nine years of activities between them. Some of their more memorable activities include camping and hiking near the North shore of Lake Superior, visiting the Bounce Depot when Jason was younger, and going down water slides over and over and over again.

Some people are hesitant to become a Big because they believe it will be a difficult time commitment. Carla Griffin used to be one of those people. “Time commitment is what initially held me back from volunteering,” said Carla. “I joined the school program and it works out great for my schedule and my Little’s. We get together over my lunch break while she’s at school on hers!”

Just an hour a week spent with a growing mind can make a big difference in both your life and your Little’s. “Knowing that you are making a young person's life better is really rewarding,” says Christopher.

“You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, says Gary. “I have made a difference in Carter’s life and he has made a difference in my life.”

Matthew Stockinger says it best: “I can’t think of an easier or more fun way of making a big difference. Just do it.”

If you would like more information on becoming a Big, visit Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Minnesota online at bbbscentralmn.org. Start something today.