Six months after Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Heart of Michigan and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saginaw Bay merged to become the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region, the newly reorganized group is launching a new initiative to recruit volunteers and raise money.
The “1000 starts with one” initiative, which starts Monday, Nov. 26, will last about a year, according to the organization’s executive director, Susan Putnam. Their goal is to find 1,000 new volunteers and raise $100,000 within that time. “We are doing pretty well with volunteers right now,” Putnam said. “But lots of people aren’t aware that it’s a merged organization right now.
“We know we’re not serving all the kids that need Big Brothers Big Sisters,” she added. “We have about 80 kids on the formal waiting list, not counting the hundreds of kids we know are going to come through our doors in the next year.”
At the time of the consolidation, the Saginaw Bay Agency was encountering difficulties in raising money and finding volunteer mentors, Putnam noted.
Within the first weeks of the kick off, mailings to over 3,000 people in the Great Lakes Bay Region will commence, with the hope of finding new volunteers, donors, or both. Each person who volunteers to be a Big Brother or Big Sister will receive a t-shirt that says “I’m one in a thousand,” Putnam said. There will also be billboards and posters visible throughout the area with the same message.
Volunteers are asked to commit to a child for at least one year. Each month, that volunteer will meet with their Little Brother or Little Sister two to three times and engage in activities the two find mutually entertaining. The average time for a volunteer to stay with the program is more than two years, Putnam said. “We are focusing on the children who need us most,” she said. “About 30 percent of single parent households live in poverty. Our goal is to give children special attention, attention they are not getting for one reason or another.”
After the initiative letter sending campaign, Big Brothers Big Sisters will begin finding local business partners to assist with the fundraising efforts. Persons interesting in volunteering or donating should visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region website, www.sbbbsgreatlakesbay.org, and click on the “volunteer” or “donate” tabs on the top right of the screen.