UPDATE: Post written by Kelsey Butler from Calhoun County Insight
For 36 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Alabama has been making a difference in the lives of children. Valerie Shannon, BBBS NEAL CEO, has been with Big Brothers Big Sisters for 16 years and says she believes in the organization’s mission, “I have seen firsthand how Big Brothers Big Sisters changes lives”.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Alabama serves children age six to 18 in Calhoun, Etowah, Talladega, DeKalb, and Cherokee Counties. Children may be referred to BBBS by a parent, guardian, counselor, physician, school staff member, or others. Little Brothers and Sisters are then paired with pre-screened Big Brothers or Sisters.
“We provide case management to ensure safety and compliance and to help with longevity of the match,” Shannon says. “We measure outcomes with surveys that guide our program success and accountability.”
Shannon says there is always a need for volunteers, especially men. “Currently we have 49 children on our ‘Ready to be Matched’ (RTBM) waiting list, 27 boys and 22 girls.” So far this year, 134 children have been matched with big brothers or big sisters. Nearly 200 children were matched in 2017.
“Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters is a painless process,” Shannon explains. “We match according to the preferences of the volunteer, parent/guardian and child, and based on geographic location, common interest and type program.” Shannon says volunteers are asked to “commit to one year of spending regular time with their Little Brother or Little Sister”.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters has a life changing mission,” Shannon says. “We are accountable that each child in our program achieves higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships, avoidance of risky behaviors and educational achievement and success.”
“We are not just a one-time service,” she continues. “Our programs produce safe, caring and committed relationships and sometimes lifetime friendships.”
As a nonprofit organization, BBBS NEAL is solely donor and volunteer supported. “There are no associated dues to be a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Shannon says.
BBBS NEAL hosts three fundraisers each year. On September 7, the group will hold a golf tournament fundraiser at Twin Bridges Golf Club in Gadsden. In addition, Run for Kid’s Sake is scheduled for October 6, and Bowl for Kids’ Sake is held in February.
For information on donating or participating in BBBS fundraisers, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Alabama at 256-241-3525.
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