Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks’ mission is to enhance a child’s self esteem and outlook on the future by providing a one-on-one relationship with an adult role model and providing financial assistance for personal and scholastic needs. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a five county service area including Greene, Webster, Christian, Stone and Taney counties, with the main office in Springfield and a satellite office in Branson. If a child wants a mentor in another Ozarks’ county, Big Brothers Big Sisters will do its best to find an adult to create that relationship.
Last year, Big Brothers Big Sisters served 838 children throughout the region. “The program could easily serve more than 1,000,” reported Lisa Slavens, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters. But even more astonishing than the number of children served is the number of adults who volunteer. “It is a huge gift of time,” said Slavens.
An endowment partner since 1993, Big Brothers Big Sisters has three endowment funds held by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. One of these endowments, the Jake R. Piatchek Endowment Fund provides three to five $500 scholarships per year to a child who benefited from the mentoring program or to a mentor. Slavens believes the partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters and CFO has been valuable to the organization.
“It’s nice to know the endowment is there when money is scarce,” said Slavens. “And all the education opportunities (provided by CFO) have been great.”
Fundraising doesn’t end with the endowment funds. Big Brothers Big Sisters will be hosting A New Taste, an adult evening to sample food from local restaurants in August. It will be held in the White River Room at Bass Pro, and features a live and silent auction. Last year the event raised $71,000 for the operating budget. It is funds like these that provide mentors with planned activities every month or two for their “littles,” as well as covering operations issues.
Though money is always needed and appreciated, Big Brothers Big Sisters also needs volunteers. There are 40-70 boys on the waiting list for Big Brothers at any given time.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national organization serving children across the United States. Even with national ties, it still faces the same challenges of other nonprofits in the region. That is why she has confidence in CFO’s Endowment Partner program.
“Take advantage of what CFO has to offer. Use their expertise,” said Slavens. “Build your endowments through them; the investments are wise.”