Big Brothers, Big Sisters: 40 years of connecting with kidsWhen bowlers hit the lanes on Friday for the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake fund-raiser, they will be supporting an organization that has a 40-year history in western Wisconsin and more than a dozen years in the St. Croix Valley.
By: Meg Heaton, Hudson Star-Observer
When bowlers hit the lanes on Friday for the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake fund-raiser, they will be supporting an organization that has a 40-year history in western Wisconsin and more than a dozen years in the St. Croix Valley.
Michel Tigan of Hudson is the group’s branch director and she said the money raised and donated to the organization over those years has paid big dividends not only to the “bigs” and “littles” directly involved in the program but also to families and the community at large.
In 2011, Big Brothers Big Sisters matched 186 children, ages 6-15, with adults who committed to an ongoing relationship of a year or more.
The impact of these adults on the children they are paired with is significant well beyond the one-to-one relationship they have. According to Tigan, statistics show that these relationships can help to reduce delinquency, early pregnancy, drug abuse and violence. They can help improve school performance and grades, cut down on truancy rates and improve self-esteem.
“They also give these children someone who is there just for them to give them the extra support and attention they so often need,” said Tigan. “It impacts their other relationships as well. We’re told they get along better with their parents or guardians, other siblings and friends.”
Tigan said some people may believe there is less of a need for programs like hers in a community as affluent as Hudson but she said they would be wrong. Economic stress is hard on children and families but isn’t the only reason a child may need some extra support.
“Children can benefit from a big brother or sister for lots of reasons including a single-parent home, a parent away in the military, a child moving into a new school or town, or one who has trouble making friends… The ‘big’ relationship is based on friendship. Children have their parents, guardians, teachers to handle discipline and those kind of issues. This is a friendship based on support and trust, someone who believes in them.”
Tigan said the “bigs” are often more impacted by the relationship than the “littles” and report feeling a little like super heroes, especially when they participate in the program at a child’s school and other children observe the relationship.
“You don’t have to be a super hero to be a big… you just have to be willing to give the time and be there,” said Tigan.
Adults who come into the program are asked to commit to at least a year, four hours a month, and can be part of the community-based program or the school site-based matches where the adult and child meet at the same time every week, usually to have lunch together. “Bigs” come from throughout the community and include professionals, retirees, stay-at-home parents and college students. Tigan said they are also starting to see returning veterans volunteer, wanting to give back the way someone did for their children during their absence.
“The circumstances of the children we serve are as different as the weather around here,” Tigan said. “They can live in apartments or trailers or in Troy Burne, but no matter where they live, they can always use a caring adult in their corner.”
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters in the St. Croix Valley, contact Tigan at (715)381-7289 or go online at www.bbbsnw.org.
Bowl for Kids’ Sake
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ largest fundraiser, Bowl for Kids’ Sake, begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 11, at Hudson Bowling Center.
The event features bowling, food, DJ, games, prizes and raffles.
All money raised stays in local communities to support mentoring relationships for children who face adversity. For more information, visit www.bbbsnw.org.