Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The 2017 Magic Moments Gala

On April 7th, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Minnesota held our annual Magic Moments Gala. We’re happy to report that this year’s event was a great success!
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Attended by supporters around the community, we filled the River’s Edge Convention Center with hundreds of kind-hearted people concerned about the youth in our community. Local vendors and businesses supplied beverages and donated items to our silent and live auctions. Volunteers sold raffle tickets, and guests were even treated to a vocal performance.

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After the silent auction closed, the evening began with a welcome greeting from Debbie Clausen and Julie McHugh, co-chairs of the event. Emcee, author, and co-founder of Top 20 Training Willow Sweeney spoke throughout the night about a mentor’s importance.

After a delicious meal, Willow Sweeney presented entertainer Ashley DuBose to perform for the crowd. DuBose, whom you may recognize from season 5 of The Voice, spoke of her beginnings in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. As Ashley explained, she and her former Big, Donna, remain very close. DuBose even wore earrings that her Big had given her as a gift while she performed. Among the three songs she performed throughout the night, Ashley sang her latest release, Be You, which she explained was an introspective piece partially based on the lessons she learned as a Little with the BBBS Program.

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A video slide show of area Bigs and Littles played throughout the night on the big screens. Videos of this year’s award winners played, and an emotional Karl Johnson accepted the 2017 BriAnna Kruzel Growing Up Big Award. BriAnna’s mother, Tami was in attendance to present the award. Karl became a big in 10th grade and continued on until his sophomore year of college. He is currently finishing up an internship with the United Way and will be graduating this spring from SCSU with a degree in Social Work.

The live auction, presented by Andrew Imholte of Black Diamond Auctions featured some fantastic prizes this year:

  • Party on the Patio: A walking tour of the Fairview Gardens Greenhouse and Nursery and a catered meal and drinks provided by Famous Dave’s, Westside Liquor, and C&L Distributing 
  • A Day on the Lake for eight people: Pontoon Rental from Westres Marine and Sport, a $100 gift certificate to Ernie’s on Gull Lake, drinks provided by Bernick’s and snacks from Pepperidge Farm. 
  • A pig roast for 130 people: Roasted pig and sides prepared by Chef Geno Skaj of Trobec’s Bar and Grill, drinks from Westside Liquor and Bernick’s, and snacks from Pepperidge Farm. 
  • A Timberwolves Chairman’s Club package with accommodations for 12 people. All-inclusive dining with a world-renowned chef and a suite attendant and parking passes for three vehicles. Donated by Federated Insurance
  • A guided Muskie trip for 2 on Lake Alexander by Our North Muskie Guide Service. Dinner provided by The Landing at Lake Alexander
  • One week rental of a Luxurious Class C motor home from PleasureLand RV. Snacks were provided by Pepperidge Farm along with soda from Bernicks.

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As the last item up for bid, auctioneer Andrew Imholte surprised the crowd with TWO one-week RV rental packages. Following the live auction, Imholte opened the floor to the Fund-A-Dream donation. This year’s goal was $40,000, and we are happy to report that The Magic Moments Gala raised an amazing $185,00 for our mentoring program!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota would like to thank everyone who attended this year’s Gala. It is with the support and donations of our community that we are able to continue doing our work for the youth of central Minnesota.

Stay tuned for more information on other events taking place throughout the year. The Federated Challenge golf challenge will take place August 6th and 7th at the St. Paul River Centre, and our annual Golf Fore Kids’ Sake event will take place August 21st at Territory Golf Club. View photos from last year’s event and learn more info on our website.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Burst into Spring with Exciting New Activities for Your Little

After a long winter, are you ready to burst into spring with exciting new adventures? Central Minnesota offers plenty of opportunities to learn, explore, and experience. What fun adventures will you and your Little enjoy this year? Add these activities to your calendar for an action-packed spring!
Take a Trip to the Zoo
giraffes-69141_640.jpgThe Twin Cities is fortunate enough to have two zoos! Both the Minnesota Zoo and the Como Zoo are open all year and highly ranked by visitors. The Como Zoo is free and has a popular botanical garden while the Minnesota Zoo has a well-beloved bird show that kids of all ages will enjoy.

A little closer to Central Minnesota, you’ll find the Safari North Animal Park. Open seasonally, this exotic animal park features exhibits from North America, South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Visit the park’s activities page to learn more about interactive activities you and your Little can do together.

Get the Creative Juices Flowing
Encouraging creativity in kids from a young age can motivate them to become more open-minded, inventive, eager to try new things, and confident. Engage in creative activities that will challenge your Little. Inspire unique art projects, engage in science experiments, test out new recipes, write stories or songs, or play challenging new games.


Open a Book
Introduce your Little to new worlds and stories with the power of reading. The Great River Regional Library has plenty of volumes and learning resources to enjoy. Take advantage of the variety of special events, guest readers, and interactive activities that the library has to offer. Take a look at their calendar for a schedule of events.
forest-386751_640.jpgTake a Hike
Promote a fit lifestyle with your Little by hitting the trails! The Greater St. Cloud community has a network of hiking, biking, and walking trails around the community. This can also be an excellent way for your little to experience the environment around their community. Consider making a nature scavenger hunt to encourage their interests in the environment or logging all the new trails you visit to keep track of the places you explore together.

Stay Active Indoors
With recreational complexes like Whitney Recreation Center, the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Center, and the recreational spaces at St. Cloud State University, there are endless places to explore and play. Go bowling, swimming, jumping in trampoline parks, and more for some memorable adventures.
Use your Resources.
Community bulletins like,, and make for excellent resources if you are in need of new activities. Take advantage of the vast Big Brothers Big Sisters network to discover new interests or connect with another pair for a day. Trying new and fresh activities occasionally can keep things exciting and can help your Little become more adventurous!
For more fun ideas, to volunteer, or to enroll your child, visit our website at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How Can You Do a Lot for a Little?

For some, becoming a Big can seem like a larger commitment than they think they’re ready for. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, we try to provide opportunities that allow potential Bigs to see if it’s the right fit for them before pledging their time. We have established a wide range of initiatives that generate interest in our programs and benefit the community and local businesses as well!


Big for a Day is a great way for companies and organizations to get involved with BBBS of Central MN. This initiative is exactly what it sounds like; adult volunteers from your company or organization get to be a Big Brother or Big Sister for a day!

What can being a Big for a day look like? In Roanoke, VA, the host of the morning show Daytime Blue Ridge volunteered to be Dymun Austin’s Big for a day. Dymun got to see what goes on behind the scenes of the show and she even got to help cook on a live cooking segment! If Big for a Day sounds like something you or someone you know would be interested in, click here for more information.
Among many others, we also have programs for Big Couples, which allows a pair of two to mentor one child. Big Families allows a Big with children of their own to bring their Little to family activities so that they don’t have to choose between time with their Little or their family. Sports Buddies allows adults with a passion for sports to help build friendships and model good sportsmanship. Sports Buddies also provides interactive opportunities for sports teams or organizations to get involved with BBBS!
There are a ton more options for military, police, faith-based, or education-seeking programs–to name a few. For a full list of all the special initiatives that are available, visit our website.

As you can see, there are several other ways to get involved with BBBS aside from becoming a traditional Big. Since we have an all-time high number of kids on the waiting list, all of us at BBBS—the Littles, especially—welcome and encourage your participation in our programs, no matter what level of commitment you’re able to give!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Step Up for Mentor Month in Central Minnesota

Patrol Sergeant Tad Hoeschen of the Saint Cloud Police Department is a Big Brother at BBBS. He recently participated in a video calling Central Minnesotans to trying something new, step out of their comfort zones and become mentors.


Sergeant Hoeschen challenges men and women to help the youth of our community experience what others take for granted. Currently, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota is experiencing a shortage on Bigs and an even more substantial shortage on Big Brothers. January is Mentor Month in Minnesota. If you are considering becoming a mentor, there could not be a better time. There are countless great kids on a waiting list anticipating a Big to mentor them.

Many people shy away from mentorship because of the responsibility and time commitment. These people may not realize the commitment it takes to make a difference to a youth in the community is only about 4 hours a month. Aaron Moore has been a Big for a little over a year and says, “Listening is important and you won’t always have all the right answers. Yet, you do the best you can, and life will work itself out.”

And if you think the Littles are the only ones that gain something from this experience, you are wrong! As Bill Riner, a long time Big Brother says, “You get a lot more than you give.”

Many of these kids have been waiting months – sometimes years – to be matched with a Big. If mentorship is something you are even considering, attend one of our informational sessions. A small time commitment of four hours per month fosters the larger commitment to support a Little and give them the mentorship and spirit they need to thrive! Who knows, maybe you’ll want to take Sergeant Hoeschen’s advice and go for it!