2021 IMPACT REPORT
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County
YEAR IN REVIEW
BBBS continued to see our fair set of challenges throughout 2021. With the rise and fall of COVID cases, we were never able to find a steady rhythm of inquiries of volunteers, leading to being unable to match as many Bigs and Littles together as we had hoped. That said, we have tried to spend time focused on that we can control, our quality metrics.
We are happy to report that BBBS of Washtenaw County received the Quality Award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in 2021, and again in 2022. We are so proud of this recognition, as our staff have been working hard on a Mentoring Toolkit, to increase our 12-month retention rate by helping Bigs and Littles grow a stronger relationship from their very first meeting.
In addition, in 2021, our Board and Staff participated in several Strategic activities, completed an organizational health and DEI survey to better understand the position of the organization and added several important goals to our Strategic Plan. First, to innovate through creating programming for targeted demographics of youth and volunteers wanting to support them. Secondly, to better engage each other (Board & Staff) and the Community through committee work. And thirdly, to strengthen our organization by creating a collaborative Board/Staff committee to advance our JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) work.
Despite the challenges of the last several years, we have continued to work hard to position ourselves for greater growth and a stronger impact on the mentoring relationships that we create and support. As we move through 2022, we hope and believe in a bigther future, as we know that we are BIGGER TOGETHER.
Onward and upward,
BIG SISTER - HANNAH WILGUS
You may have met Hannah and MaKayla as our Match of the Month in October 2021. They have been matched for just over a year, but what an impact a year makes. From starting their relationship during the height of the pandemic to MaKayla working through some really tough challenges these two faced a lot of hurdles in their first year. Rather than pulling them apart, each fresh challenge made them stronger. Now, here they stand one year later, and in Hannah’s own words, “We’re a fantastic team and I wouldn’t change a thing.” This team definitely demonstrates what it means to be “Bigger Together,” and that’s why we are very pleased to announce that Hannah is one of our Bigs of the Year!
When you start a relationship virtually it can be challenging to build a strong connection. Despite these challenges, Mom hoped the relationship would thrive and help boost MaKayla’s self-confidence. Hannah dove right in, and soon found MaKayla and her were similar in many ways. Mom credits the great success of this match to that similarity, and Hannah’s willingness to have some sensitive conversations with MaKayla. Having someone in her corner that both understood her, and could be trusted to show up no matter what, has built MaKayla’s confidence. She knows now no matter how low she feels, Hannah will be there to lift her up, because she matters. When a child learns to work through the hard times in a healthy and supported way, it prepares them to be strong and resilient adults. One thing is clear, Hannah and MaKayla have already learned lifelong lessons together, lessons that will have a lasting impact.
Any Big of the Year must advocate for our program as a whole as well as show dedication to their Little. Hannah has supported our program both by participating along with MaKayla in our 5k last fall, and in our, Give BIG fundraiser in November. In fact, Hannah raised more money than any other participating Big and beat her overall fundraising goal. Hannah is dedicated, consistent, and reliable. She shows up for Makayla and for BBBS - every time - and that is what makes her one of our Bigs of the Year! Congrats Hannah, we are so proud to have you as part of our village!
BIG BROTHER - CHAO "SUNNY" SUN
Meet Sunny and Aidan, these two have been matched for nearly 5 years. Aidan’s mom said, Aidan has found a friend, resource, and someone he can share his life experiences with. She said that Sunny has been such a great support, especially during Aidan’s teenage years even for her. Aidan’s father passed away in 2012 from leukemia which was very hard on the family so having a positive man in his life has been so beneficial. His mom went on to say that he has been able to instill positivity in Aidan’s life and they are so blessed to have him in their lives. Sunny has been a reliable male role model, there to guide Aidan as he grew into a man. While Aidan will soon graduate from high school and age out of our program, the impact Sunny has had on him will certainly be lifelong. And that is what makes Sunny one of our Bigs of the Year!
Aidan is in his senior year of high school, and as a team, this match has been really focused on what’s next for Aidan when it comes to higher education and his future. Sunny has been very instrumental in helping Aidan decide what he is interested in career wise and even gave him his first job this past summer. Aidan worked for Sunny’s business, ‘Back Office Studio’ (BOS) located in Ypsilanti. Aidan’s role was to help with community gatherings and local businesses that partnered with BOS. Sunny and his partner have also had talks with Aidan about college readiness; college applications, deciding on schools, etc. We believe that all young people are full of limitless potential and with Sunny’s support and guidance, Aidan has built the confidence and the skill sets he needs to achieve that potential after he graduates.
Beyond being a staunch advocate for Aidan, Sunny also makes time to advocate and support our program as a whole. He has opened up BOS for BBBS events, and shared information about our mission and need for Bigs with his staff and EMU community. He has also accepted a board position in the new year. Sunny’s dedication to both Aidan and our program as a whole makes him the ideal pick for Big of the Year. Congratulations Sunny, thank you for being a part of our village!
Our mission is to help youth achieve their fullest potential. That journey begins with a match. When a Big and Little begin their relationship, the Big, with the help of Match Support, guides the Little towards realizing the limitless nature of their own inherent potential.
Many times, household, neighborhood and other factors, can create challenges to having the time and resources to activate that inherent potential inside a youth. And we have the utmost respect for parents/guardians who trust us with helping to support the growth of their child by matching them with a Big that can give them some additional one-on-one time, opportunities and experiences that can help ignite that fire
We are so incredibly grateful for the time and talent of these individuals. We know that without them stepping up, stepping in and walking along side their Little, as they navigate this changing world together, that we would accomplish very little. They are the backbone of our organization and a million thank you's could not express the depth of our appreciation.
Javier Alberto-Sowers Bonamego
Hannah Eve Bihlmeyer
Taylor Clayborne Gomez
Mary Duarte Thibault
Abigail "Abby" Kumagai
Francy Luna Diaz
Daniel "Parnell" McCarter
Chao "Sunny" Sun
James "Jim" Valloric
Lotte van den Goor
Carali Van Otteren
As matches grow through time spent together, discovering shared interests and experiencing new things, they begin to build trust and respect. A caring reliable Big helps a Little build confidence. They begin to believe in themselves, and truly own their potential.
At the 2021 National Conference, we were proud to be recognized with a Quality Award for exceeding the national average for 12 month match retention by over 5%. In addition to the award criteria, our staff accomplished increases in several other key metrics.
As part of Big Brothers Big Sisters Big 30 Celebration, BBBS brought back a beloved event from years gone by - Golf Fore Kids’ Sake! On May 24th, sponsors, friends, colleagues, Board members and staff gathered at the exclusive Barton Hills Golf Course to celebrate and support BBBS while golfing 18 holes on one of Michigan’s premier courses. Under sunny skies and in the safety of the outdoors, Golf Fore Kids’ Sake was the first event BBBS was able to hold in-person since the outbreak of Covid-19. It was wonderful to be together with old friends and welcome new friends to the BBBS family.
Judy and Steve Dobson
Friends of BBBS from White Lake and Northville Hills Golf Clubs
Lori and Keith Hayward
Old National Bank
The John E. Green Company
The Print Giants
On September 12th, BBBS was thrilled to once again host A Fall Evening with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Presented by The Jones Family Foundation and kindly hosted by Wayne and Shelly Jones at the Boathouse at Lakefields, this was a special night to celebrate mentorship and appreciate each other’s company. An exquisite location, combined with amazing food, an exciting live auction, bourbon bar, live music, and moving words from former Big-Robyn, and Little-Matt, whose lives were forever changed by BBBS, left guests feeling inspired.
The Jones Family Foundation
HealthCap Helping Hands
The Janeth Fund
The Mullick Foundation
Stephanie and Bruce Benz
The Bob and Jan Lyons Foundation
The Martin Family Foundation
Norma and Dick Sarns
The VonVoigtlander Family Foundation
Bank of Ann Arbor
Level One Bank
Merrill and John Dudley
The Promanus Group
Rebecca and Randy Tisch
Jackie and Steve Tracy
Julia and Adam Williams
Chris and Herb Black
Judy and Steve Dobson
Nancie and Don Loppnow
Sally and Tim Petersen
When a match builds on a strong foundation of trust and respect they form a deep bond. That bond reinforces a Little's confidence and sense of self. Littles who enjoy a long, successful match make better choices and become the Defenders of their own potential.
Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation - Youth Council
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America - Juvenile Justice Initiative
Harry A. and Margaret D. Towsley Foundation
J. Ferrantino Foundation
J.F. Ervin Foundation
James & Faith Knight Foundation
Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor Foundation
Speckhard-Knight Charitable Foundation
United Way of Washtenaw County
Lizann and Gerry Anderson**
Kiana and David Barfield
Traci and Chris Coffman
Judy and Steve Dobson
Melanie and Curtis Hoff
Kristine and Shawn Kerns
Mary and Bill Kinley
Cindy and Mike Masini**
Debby and Tom McMullen
Leslie and Terry Murphy
Lisa and Mike O'Connell
Susan and Ren Snyder**
Board of Directors
* Current or Former Big
Jennifer Spitler, LMSW
Anne Marie Veneroni
Marketing & Engagement Manager
YCS Site Coordinator
To our volunteers, who show up and and share small moments with a young person, we could not do what we do without you. Thank you for your time, your patience, for the lessons you teach and the lessons you learn. We are grateful for you each and every day.
And to our donors, who give financial support to ensure that we can continue to advance our mission, you are piece of every match we make. Thank you all for standing with us today to defend the potential of tomorrow.