Spotlight On … Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca

By Rob Montana
Tompkins Weekly

Photo Provided
One of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca matches paired Chris (Big) and Tru (Little).

Non-profit organizations are plentiful throughout Tompkins County, and make a big impact in our communities. Despite their contributions, area non-profits can sometimes go unnoticed or unknown. In an effort to shine a spotlight on those who are making a difference in our county, Tompkins Weekly will be showcasing these organizations on a regular basis.

This week we are highlighting the Ithaca Youth Bureau’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program. To learn more, we asked Community Outreach Specialist Anna Adler and Program Director Joe Gibson about it.

Tompkins Weekly: What is your mission?
Big Brothers Big Sisters: To provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better.

TW: How do you fulfill that mission?
BBBS: We pair kids in our community with supportive stable adults who show up, nurture their interests, and spend quality time with them in the community. We provide training and support to our volunteers to ensure the health and happiness of the friendship between the mentor and mentee. We also nurture partnerships and connections throughout the community so that our organization works together with others to serve our families.

TW: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces?
BBBS: Some of our biggest challenges are maintaining consistent financial support for our mission, adapting our program to evolving community needs, and the recruitment and engagement of male volunteers.

TW: What is something people do not know about your organization?
BBBS: We have some great programs to engage our kids while they are on the waitlist, before they are even matched – we work with IC & CU Bigs Club volunteers, as well as a wide array of community partners to run Saturday workshops at Northside Community Center and organize exciting trips to Cornell Campus.
We have a strong partnership with Friendship Donations Network, which allows us to provide fresh snacks for our kids programs.
Also, our very own program director, Joe Gibson, just became a Big Brother for the first time this fall and it’s amazing! We’re so excited for him.

TW: How can people best support your mission?
BBBS: Volunteer with us and encourage people to volunteer if you think they would make a great mentor, as well as refer kids/families to our program!
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The program will be hosting its 2nd annual Open House from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, January 27, 2018.
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ithaca, visit Facebook.com/BBBSIthaca or BBBSIthaca.org.