BBBS Celebrates National Mentoring Month ~ 2018 ‘Bigs of the Year’ Announced

Who has made a difference in your life? Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas invites people to consider this question in January during National Mentoring Month. National Mentoring Month is a time to recognize and honor those who serve as mentors, role models, resources, advisers and guides, changing others’ lives for the better, forever.

“As we enter a new year, it is only appropriate to pause and consider the importance of volunteerism at BBBS. National Mentoring Month is a good reminder that we can only realize our vision of helping children achieve success in life because of the service of our volunteer mentors – our Big Brothers and Sisters,” said Brent Fields, CEO of BBBS of Central Texas.

“This past year our Bigs contributed almost 60,000 hours of volunteer service to our Littles.  You can’t put a price tag on that kind of contribution and it’s critical to everything we do.  On behalf of our staff, board, donors, and about 1,000 kids served last year – I want to say a big “THANKS” to everyone serving in this transformational way!”

“National Mentoring Month is a great time for BBBS,” said Joe Strychalski, Vice President of Programs. “Not only are we able to thank and recognize our amazing volunteers, but it’s also a terrific opportunity for us to share more about the power of mentoring, spread awareness of all the work that BBBS is doing in the community, and recruit new volunteers for the program!  January is by far our busiest time for inquiries from both prospective parents and volunteers, which is great – we are always in need of new volunteers, especially men and bilingual Bigs!”

During National Mentoring Month BBBS also recognizes its volunteers by announcing the agency’s 2018 Central Texas ‘Bigs of the Year.’  Winners at the local level are considered for statewide, and then possibly national, Big of the Year honors. BBBS of Central Texas’ 2018 Bigs of the Year are Big Sister Maggie Johnson and Big Brother Nicholas Johnson (no relation). The agency’s 2018 Big Couple is Connie and Bill Nelson. Maggie Johnson has also been recognized as the 2018 Big Sister of the Year for the state of Texas.

Big Sister Maggie Johnson, Kirida, and Theresa McDaniels

Big Sister Maggie Johnson, Kirida, and Theresa McDaniels

“Kirida, my Little Sister, was struggling in school when I first met her,” said Big Sister Maggie. “She was often in trouble for fighting due to bullying from other students, and she was regularly suspended from school.” All of that started to change when Maggie became Kirida’s Big Sister. While others told Kirida that she would likely end up dead or in jail, Maggie helped Kirida build her self-esteem and coping strategies. As a result, Kirida graduated from high school in the top 5% of her class, has received numerous honors and awards, and has just finished her first semester as a first-generation college student at Texas A&M.

“Our mentoring relationship gave Kirida support when she needed it the most and someone to cheer her on when things got tough,” said Maggie. “Kirida is one of the most resilient and determined young women I know, and she has been an inspiration and a wonderful addition to my life. She has said that she feels like we are “family” and always will be. I feel the same way and think that we will be connected for a very long time.” Their story is just one example of the positive power of mentoring.

Mentoring Month is a time for all of us to remember and thank our mentors – people who took the time to be there for us, and who helped us achieve greater success than we could have on our own. At BBBS we are proud to continue this rich tradition of giving back, and we are honored to work alongside the almost 1,000 Big Brothers and Sisters who are making a difference in children’s lives every day.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central • 4800 Manor Road • Austin, Texas 78723 • 512.472.5437

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas serves nearly 1,000 children in Central Texas every day. For over 47 years, we’ve matched children, ages 6–16, with caring adult mentors who offer encouragement and support to each child. BBBS depends on donations to recruit, screen and train volunteers, and to provide on-going support for children, families and volunteers as they build and sustain long-lasting relationships. Last year, more than 98 percent of the children served by BBBS remained in school and avoided early parenting.