Being a Role Model

How long have you been a Big?

Keaton: I’ve been in Big Brothers Big Sisters for two years now. I started my junior year.

Why did you choose to be a Big?

Keaton: I chose to become one because I wanted to be a role model for the kids and be there for them even if they don’t have somebody there when they get home.

What have been a few highlights of being a Big?

Keaton: Seeing all of the different kids in the morning and seeing smiling faces on all of them. I love to see them being happy when they look at me. I also enjoy them coming back from Christmas and telling me everything about that and what they got.

How has your relationship with your Littles changed you? How has it changed them?

Keaton: It has changed me by letting me know that I’m a positive role model for them and made me confident with what I do every day. It’s changed both of them by seeing me there for them and seeing me care for them. They can ask me anything or do anything and I will try my hardest to help them.

Vlad (Keaton’s Little) enjoys hanging out with Keaton, having him as a friend. John (Keaton’s Little) thinks Keaton is really cool and fun to play games with.

Paying It Forward

 James (left), Matt (center), and Jeffrey (right)

James (left), Matt (center), and Jeffrey (right)

How long have you been a Big?

Matt: I have been a Big since the spring of 2016.

Why did you choose to be a Big?

Matt: I chose to become a Big because I remember how rough or awkward my middle school years could be. It helped having an older student to look up to.

What have been a few highlights of being a Big?

Matt: The extreme games of Uno have been a highlight, but hearing a Little say how Monday mornings are the highlight of their week.

How has your relationship with your Littles changed you? How has it changed them?

Matt: I enjoy the beginning of my week and gain respect for my younger peers.

In regards to their Big, Matt, Jeffrey and James had this to say:

Jeffery said that he likes having someone to talk to and hang out with. James said Matt is a great person to be around and it’s fun getting to hang out with him.

Someone to Confide in

How long have you been a Big?

Melissa: Two years.

Why did you choose to become a Big?

Melissa: I wanted to give back to my community and I love kids.

What have been a few highlights of being a Big?

Melissa: Getting to know my Little more and getting to hear her talk about what’s going on in her life.

How has your relationship with your Little changed you? How has it changed her?

Melissa: My relationship with my Little has allowed me to care for someone else that I had never even known about before. I feel like our relationship has changed her by giving her someone to confide in.

Thoughts on Being a BIG

How long have you been a Big?

Zoey: October 2016

Why did you choose to become a Big?

Zoey: I want to teach, and I love working with kids.

What have been a few highlights of being a Big?

Zoey: Sophia, Hayley, Danica, and Natilee are great kids!

How has your relationship with your Little(s) changed you? How has it changed them?

Zoey: It has made my love for working with kids grow. Hayley, Natilee, Sophia, and Danica say they have more fun at BBBS.

Do your Littles want to say something?

Zoey: We like coming and spending time with our Big!

Creating Memories as a BIG

How long have you been a Big?

Katie: I have been a Big for five years.

Why did you chose to become a Big?

Katie: I heard a commercial on the radio and immediately knew it was something I wanted to do! I have always been very passionate about helping those in need - and BBBS is a great way to do that.

What have been a few highlights of being a Big?

Katie: Anytime she brings up an old memory of our time together is a huge highlight for me. To me, it means I'm making a difference and we're creating memories that will last a lifetime to her!

How has your relationship with your Little changed you?

Katie: It's made me a more caring and aware person of the needs of others. I have noticed how much little things mean to her, and it's encouraged me to do more for my community and those in need.

How has it changed your Little?

Katie: She has become a more comfortable and confident little girl! She KNOWS she has someone who believes in her and will encourage her to follow her dreams!

What it Means to be a BIG

How long have you been a Big?

Addy: This is my first year being a "big," but I've been involved with the BBBS program for two years now.

Why did you chose to become a Big?

Addy: I chose to become a big because I remember when I was younger and admired older kids, and I want to be that positive influence for my little, Dezire.

What have been a few highlights of being a Big?

Addy: There are a lot of great things about being a big, but my favorite is when she doesn't want to go home because we're having so much fun together. We're a lot of the same person, so we like to listen to music and talk about everything, which is so fun for both of us we don't want it to end. I love seeing Dezire's personality come out a little more each time we're around each other, whether it's her telling me she doesn't like my music or what she wants to do for our next big/little date.

Being a big has changed me because it reminds me to forget the small stuff and focus on the bigger picture: just enjoying life.

How has your relationship with your Little changed you? How has it changed her?

Addy: Being a big has changed me because it reminds me to forget the small stuff and focus on the bigger picture: just enjoying life. Since becoming a big, I've become a lot more aware of all the fun opportunities there are to experience throughout the community, partially because I want to take Dezire to do these things. I'm being a kid again while growing up at the same time, and it's an experience that is reminding me life is too short to dwell on the small stuff and I need to fit in all the fun stuff I can.

I'm not sure how the experience has changed Dezire yet, but I hope it's helping her see the fun in life, too.

Paw Patrol Extravaganza Coming to Pike County

Pike County, IL: Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois will be in Pike County for Paw Patrol Extravaganza on January 22nd. The event will take place in Pittsfield's Farm Bureau building at 1301 E Washington St. The event will feature three main characters of the television show: Chase, Marshall, and Skye. There will also be activities available including arts and crafts, and table games! The Pittsfield Humane Society and Police Department will also be set up at the event and partaking in the fun!

We are currently taking ticket reservations for 2:30-4:00 PM, as the first time slot from 1:00-2:30 PM has already sold out. Tickets are $10/person. You have a few options as to how to obtain tickets. Interested attendees may send us a Facebook message, or a message through our website to reserve tickets, OR people can visit our website store to purchase and download their tickets in the chance they want to give them as Christmas gifts.

Andrea Murray, program manager of Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois stated “Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-for profit agency that relies strictly on fundraising, grants, and private donations.  That's why events like the "Paw Patrol Extravaganza" are so important to our agency, fundraisers like these allow us to continue our mentoring programs in West Central Illinois.”

Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois Cindy Denby said “Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois is changing lives of children. Our children's opportunity for success increases by 80 percent in areas such as graduation, less likely to use drugs or alcohol, and joining the work force. We strive to make our children's lives better one match at a time.” 

Ryan Flynn, fundraising and social media coordinator of Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois, loves to bring new events to communities. Referring to the organization as a whole, Flynn stated, "This year, we won the Pinnacle Award for being among the best, most efficient, and life-impacting Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in the nation. But we need help in continuing that success. It takes approximately $1,000 to take a child through the entire match process, and get them a big brother or big sister. That is where these fundraisers come in and play a crucial role in the continued commitment to our community's youth."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois is a youth-mentoring non-profit service organization that provides ongoing supportive services to children in need of a mentor. Visit www.bigbrothersbigsisterswci.org for more information. 

Big Brother / Big Sister Has Impact On IC

By Sara Albsmeyer

* Originally published in Illinois College's The Rambler on May 11, 1988.

"It's very rewarding to work with the kids. They are always so excited to see you," said Kris Madsen, Illinois College's representative for the Big Brother/Big Sister program.

The program is designed to give a child a special friend. There are many different situations. The child can come from a family where both parents work and feel the child needs more attention or the child may come from a single parent home where the parent feels the child needs a positive opposite sex role model. "Amanda (Madsen's Little Sister) is a twin and a middle child. Sometimes the middle child is sort of the fall guy. Her mother felt that she needed more individual attention," said Madsen.

Any child up to the age of 18 can qualify for the program. "There is a long waiting list of children who need Big Brothers or Sisters," said Madsen. "The list is especially long for children who want Big Brothers."

Anyone over the age of 18 can qualify to become a Big Brother or Sister. Persons interested in the program can fill out an application and submit it, along with two references to John Kelker, the director of the program. The next step is an interview with Kelker and then an interview with the prospective Little Brother or Sister and his or her family.

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Big Brothers and Sisters are paired up with a child according to similar interests and the child's need. The case worker for the program keeps in close contact with the pair, especially in the beginning to make sure there are no problems.

During the interview with the family the director makes sure that everyone understands the rules of the program. The Big Brother or Sister is expected to contact the child at least twice a month, the more contact the better. The Big Brother or Sister must always get permission from the parents for the activity they are going to do with the child. "One problem I've had," said Madsen, "is that I'll get permission for the child to do something and then when it's time to go her parents say she can't because she has been bad at school. They are not supposed to use the Big Brother or Sister as punishment because then the child might start to think of the Big Brother or Sister in a negative way. The Big Brother or Sister is supposed to be a positive influence."

Students at both colleges are very active in the program. There are male and female representatives of both campuses. Little Brothers or Sisters can eat for free in Illinois College's dining hall. MacMurray College, on the other hand, is very involved with children from Illinois School for the Deaf. This is good for both the Big Brother or Sister and the child, since both are away from home.

Many local businesses are also involved in the program. TCBY, Arby's and Pizza Hut all give discounts. Eight Wheeler's has free skating on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The YMCA lets the Big and Little Brothers or Sisters in free if they are doing an activity together.

The Big Brother/Big Sister program is part of the United Way. Most of the funding comes from the United Way. The rest of the funding comes from donations.

"Last week I went to Amanda's band concert. She was playing the flute that I used to play in junior high. You could see the excitement on her face. They even played one of the same songs I played in my first concert!"


* This is the second in a series of blog posts about Big Brothers Big Sisters historical involvement at Illinois College in coordination with the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives at Illinois College.

Big Brother / Big Sister Offers Love

By Phyllis McAllister

* Originally published in Illinois College's The Rambler on February 10, 1984.

Executive director of the Big Brother/Big Sister Organization, Mrs. Pat Harris was the speaker at convocation on Monday, February 6. Mrs. Harris was assisted by a panel of four Illinois College students, Dianne Curry, Kathy Curry, Jim Connolly, and Doug Miles.

Mrs. Harris briefly discussed the history of the Morgan County Big Brother/Big Sister Organization before turning towards the focus and goal of the present program.

The main focus of Big Brother/Big Sister is to work with youth on a one-to-one basis, and also to work with them in a recreational setting.

The goal of the organization is to bring love and understanding into the lives of youth, and to show the youth that there is something worth living for.

Volunteers to help with the program range in age from 17 to 70. The youth involved are between the ages of 5 and 17.

Volunteers are always needed. Mrs. Harris commented that there has never been a time when the waiting list for big brothers and big sisters has had less than 100 youth on it.

After the introduction by Mrs. Harris, the discussion was turned over to the panel.

Dianne Curry has been a campus representative for Big Brother/Big Sister since her freshman year at I.C. Working in the organization has been a great learning experience for her. "It taught me the difference between material things and love." commented Dianne.

Kathy Curry is also a campus representative for Big Brother/Big Sister. She spoke on the types of youth in the program. Many come from broken homes and socially, economically, and culturally deprived backgrounds. Being involved in Big Brother/Big Sister has also been an educational experience for her.

"It takes a lot of inner strength," said Jim Connolly, field representative for Big Brother/Big Sister. He spoke of how easy it is to think of new things to do with a youth. Even just spending a day on campus can be enjoyable. Youth are often fascinated by the college experience.

Speaking on monthly Big Brother/Big Sister activities was Doug Miles. He has been a campus representative since his freshman year. The organization holds monthly activities such as roller skating, bowling, and field trips. A three day summer camp is also held annually.

The program was brought to an end with comments by Mrs. Harris. "Volunteers are the key, and what makes it work. They are very, very special kinds of people."

If you are interested in the Big Brother/Big Sisters Organization, contact a campus representative or Mrs. Pat Harris at 243-#### or at 220 E. Morgan.


* This is the first in a series of blog posts about Big Brothers Big Sisters historical involvement at Illinois College in coordination with the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives at Illinois College.

Why Give?

Every year, just a few days after Black Friday, we have Giving Tuesday. A day that serves as a reminder that there are a lot of nonprofits out there that need our help, and more funding to continue striving to create the change in our communities that we want to see.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois (BBBSWCI) is just one of many nonprofits that will be hoping to receive your generous donation dollars this Giving Tuesday, but it is in a unique predicament: we do not receive state funding.

What this means is that BBBSWCI is funded solely from grants, fundraisers, and generous people in the community, which is why days like Giving Tuesday are so very important. If you decide to send a few dollars our way, here is where the money would go:

We have numerous programs to fund. We have the smallest staff that we can manage with the largest workload we can manage. We also have a lot of kids on our wait-list waiting to be matched. This is where your money goes. It goes toward impacting the youth of West Central Illinois in possibly the best way: through mentoring.

Give early. Give often. Give generously. And stay in touch, so we can show you how your money is being used. You won't be disappointed.

Jacksonville, Look Who's Painting

 Brittany Henry (left) of the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau with Ryan Flynn, Fundraising & Social Media Specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois.

Brittany Henry (left) of the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau with Ryan Flynn, Fundraising & Social Media Specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois.

For the fifth year in a row, Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois will be hosting our annual fundraiser, Look Who's Painting. At the event, we invite out local celebrities and community leaders to make a creative piece, such as a painting or a photograph or another type of art, and then we auction it off at the event to raise money for the programs we have and the youth they support.

Brittany Henry of the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau sees the impact Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois has. “It’s nice to see an organization here that helps the youth here in the community, not only with having good role models, but I think it’s also very important for kids of all ages to have a positive role model.”

We have approximately 350 youth or "Littles" in our programs, which include community matches and school-based programs. We do this with only three case managers, which is well below the national average for Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. We've been able to make things more inefficient, while also keeping the greatest level of support we can provide to the youth in our programs. In fact, for the past two years we've been awarded two of the highest awards you can win as a Big Brothers Big Sisters agency: in 2015 we won the Gold Standard Award, which is awarded to the top 10 agencies in the country, and this year we topped that by winning the Pinnacle Award, which is awarded to the top 5 agencies in the country.

 Tim Chipman, Vice-Principal at Jacksonville High School, along with his newborn came up with a great piece for this year's event!

Tim Chipman, Vice-Principal at Jacksonville High School, along with his newborn came up with a great piece for this year's event!

As Anne Godman, Director of Career Services at MacMurray, put it, “Well I’ve known of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission for a very long time. In a previous nonprofit life, I worked with children who had Bigs, so they were the Littles, and I got to see the joy that they experience. They would tell me about the fun they had. And it was very clear that the bonds they had built would be lasting bonds.”

This is the impact that the mentoring Big Brothers Big Sisters facilitates has on young minds and their prospects.

Look Who's Painting is also about building a network in the community. We love building these great relationships with the communities we serve, and Look Who's Painting helps facilitate this. By inviting local leaders to help us with our mission, we get a chance to learn about theirs. We get to learn about why they give back, why they enjoy the job they do, etc. It also helps those leaders learn more about the programs that are offered in the area, so that they may utilize and push further to new audiences who may benefit from them.

 Illinois College President Barbara Farley stands with Illinois College student Lucas Marlow, who helped coordinate public relations efforts for the event as a requirement for one of his classes this semester.

Illinois College President Barbara Farley stands with Illinois College student Lucas Marlow, who helped coordinate public relations efforts for the event as a requirement for one of his classes this semester.

President Barbara Farley of Illinois College, echoed this point. "We want to open doors and be part of supporting their growth and development in any way that we can. It is important for Illinois College to show that it matters deeply to us how the young people of Jacksonville and the region are doing. We are tied to the strength of Jacksonville and the youth of Jacksonville and we need to be part of bringing even more hope to their lives. I think that Illinois College has more to offer. I would love to see our participation in this event be as a first step in building our relationship with Big Brothers and Big Sisters."

This is it. This is the last week to purchase tickets. They can be bought at the door. The event is Friday.

Kids are like a blank canvas. They await the gentle hand of a mentor to help them shape their goals and their future and push them in the right direction. They are waiting to be handed a paint brush. However, we need help providing the paint.

Help us provide the paint, and watch our youth grow.

The Impact of a Big

By Jordan Hale; Illinois College

Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois is a youth-mentoring non-profit service organization that provides ongoing supportive services to children in need of a mentor. At the June National Conference, they were selected as a 2016 Pinnacle Award winner as only five Big Brother Big Sisters of nearly four-hundred received this award. Agencies selected for the Award must demonstrate excellence in quality mentoring services, including sustained long-term mentoring relationships and increased revenues. Amy Edwards, an active Big Sister and board member in the organization, is very honored that they could receive this prestigious award.

Amy Edwards is the Patient Experience Coordinator at the Quincy Medical Group. The medical center provides quality healthcare services to over 300,000 people annually in the tri-state area. She got involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters whenever her husband, then boyfriend, gave her the idea to join him in being a Big to a child. Amy has been a Big for over three years now and will continue to be involved for the rest of her life. Her message to those trying to determine if they want to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters is to “definitely do it.” She said that, “It is absolutely more rewarding for the adults than it is the Big’s. Being able to be that mentor and positive role model makes you feel good about yourself.” Though most Big’s are involved for many years, her story is completely different and truly incredible. 

She began with her first “Little” and met weekly for one hour intervals and was asked to meet with her for a minimum of one year. She never missed those weekly sessions with her little and as time passed, she became closer and closer with her. Three years ago, whenever she began her journey with Big Brothers Big Sisters and her first and only little, she did not expect that that little would now be her foster daughter. According to Amy, “She went into the foster system and I snatched her up. So, she went from being my sister, to being my daughter.”

She went into the foster system and I snatched her up. So she went from being my sister, to being my daughter.
— Amy Edwards

Though she has found her life-long match, that does not stop her dedication to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ryan Flynn, fundraising and social media coordinator of BBBSWCI stated, “Amy’s dedication to Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is a testament to her commitment to the youth of her community. She is a great board member and an even better Big.” 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois works extremely hard on matching children with correct Big’s and having many events throughout the calendar year geared toward bringing them together while also fundraising for the organization. The next event is the Paw Patrol Extravaganza in Quincy, Illinois, which Amy will be working at. This is the first time they have done this event. According to Amy, “We wanted to do an event where we could incorporate kiddos and also where families could come out and do things. It is a great way to fundraise while letting families have a good time.” The police and fire departments will also be in attendance."

Whenever asked why the average person should support Big Brothers Big Sisters, she expressed the value of the dollar to them rather than to a larger organization. They do not require a lot of money, just that to keep staff in the office and do background checks for new Bigs that want to get involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters.  They can do a lot with a little and have proven that over the years that they are in fact doing so.  

Amy and the others at Big Brothers Big Sisters believe that West Central Illinois is ahead of the game. This is exemplified with them receiving the Pinnacle Award this year. She explains that their board is very active and their staff is amazing. You must have dedicated employees to be a successful non-profit organization. Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois Cindy Denby stated that “Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois is changing lives of children. Our children's opportunity for success increases by 80 percent in areas such as graduation, less likely to use drugs or alcohol, and joining the work force. We strive to make our children's lives better one match at a time.” 

We strive to make our children’s lives better one match at a time.
— Cindy Denby

Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois betters our community’s youth one child at a time. If you would like to donate or are interested in becoming a Big, visit www.bigbrothersbigsisterswci.org for more information. You may also reach them at (217) 243-3821.

Celebrities Paint For A Cause

By Lucas Marlow

Paint, it is a liquid substance that comes in many colors. Paint can be light and vibrant or dark and mysterious; however, dip an instrument such as a brush into paint and place it elegantly on a canvas and you can begin to see the inner thoughts of the one who manipulates the paint. An image begins to appear as the varying colors dance and create firm boundaries in their particular placement. Thus this canvas full of paint becomes something of value to us and allows us to feel emotion. It is more than just paint. It carries significance. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is the nation’s oldest one-to-one youth mentoring non-profit service organization that provides ongoing supportive services to children. BBBS helps shape, model and create better lives for children through their mentoring program which is not much different from painting. The mentors are the brush and the children are the canvas. The paint is the influence, the teaching and instruction that the mentors (the brush) provide and apply to the canvas. Mentors have the ability to paint or re-paint the lives of their mentees. Big Brother Big Sisters provides this relationship because their cause is significant to the children they serve. 

Mentors have the ability to paint or re-paint the lives of their mentees. Big Brothers Big Sisters provides this relationship because their cause is significant to the children they serve.

Look Who’s Painting is an event that has been held by Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois (BBBSWCI) every year for the past five years. For the event, BBBSWCI brings together Morgan County celebrities to produce exciting pieces of art with the hope of raising money to support their programs and the children they serve. This year’s local celebrities include Illinois College’s President Dr. Barbara Farley, Candidate for Morgan County State’s Attorney, Tyson Manker, Illinois State Rep, C.D. Davidsmeyer, Judy Tighe of Jacksonville Main Street, Director of Career Services at MacMurray, Anne Godman, and SafeCo Bakery & Donut’s very own, Saif Mouilish. These are just six of 24 local celebrities painting this year. This event is a great opportunity for networking with very successful local personalities and also gives you a chance to purchase unique artwork created by them.

Brittany Henry, executive director of the Jacksonville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, who painted last year, stated, “I remember when I was first asked to be part of this event. I am nowhere near artistic and I completely shot it down. And then I thought, it’s a fundraiser for children. So then I came back and said ‘I’m not very artistic, but I will do this because the money is going to a good cause.’” 

BBBSWCI’s fundraising & social media specialist, Ryan Flynn, elaborates on the importance of the event, “Look Who’s Painting is one of the unique events where we really get to interact with leaders in our community, who, in turn, get to learn more about our programs and the kids we serve. The best part is the money raised from this event will be used to further the school programs and help fund more matches in the communities we serve.” 

The best part is the money raised from this event will be used to further the school programs and help fund more matches in the communities we serve.
— Ryan Flynn

It is fundraising events like Look Who’s Painting that help support BBBSWCI. It not only allows them to continue to conduct their work but also create awareness within the community, showing the people of Morgan County the bigger picture. Thanks to the support from the community so far, Big Brothers Big Sisters has seen many children benefiting from the mentoring program. Results from the latest Youth Outcome Survey revealed that 94 percent of children improved in their attitudes towards risky behaviors, 88 percent improved in parental trust, 85 percent improved in their educational expectations, 83 percent improved in scholastic competence, and 83 percent improved in social acceptance.

“Look Who's Painting benefits our over 500 matches and 10 school programs! We are changing the lives of children giving them the chance at success in life,” said Cindy Denby, executive director of BBBSWCI. This event raises about $10,000 a year for this organization. At a previous Look Who’s Painting event, a painting was auctioned off at $750.

Through her participation in the event so far, Dr. Farley realizes the significance of BBBSWCI’s mission, "I really believe strongly that organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and others like it that are focused on young people, the impact is real and I think it is an incredibly important mission for the organization." She continues to commit Illinois College to this organization in the future stating, “We are tied to the strength of Jacksonville and the youth of Jacksonville and we need to be part of bringing even more hope to their lives. I think that Illinois College has more to offer. I would love to see our participation in this event be as a first step in building our relationship with Big Brothers and Big Sisters."

The event is Friday, Nov. 18 at Bogart's Banquet Hall, 2142 Old State Road in Jacksonville, Illinois. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the Live Auction begins at 7:00 p.m. Attendees at the live auction will be able to purchase the artwork of any of the artists participating in the Look Who’s Painting Event. Appetizers and refreshments will be provided to those attending the event. Tickets to attend the event are $20.00 and can be purchased by calling Ryan Flynn at 217-243-3821 or visiting www.bigbrothersbigsisterswci.org. This event is open to the public. The money acquired through ticket sales and the auction will support BBBSWCI and their mentoring program.

A canvas that has no positive influence, and receives no attention remains blank and unadorned. But a canvas can become beautiful, influential, and significant when a brush creatively, gently, and carefully directs a tapestry of paint on it.

Remember, the children are the canvas, the mentors are the brush, but it is up to you to provide the paint.

* Originally published in the Jacksonville Journal Courier on Oct. 27, 2016.

Look Who's Painting, Quincy!

Every year for the past five years Big Brothers Big Sisters West Central Illinois has brought together people from all over Adams county to participate in the annual “Look Who’s Painting” event. “Look Who’s Painting” is a fundraising event, put on by Big Brothers Big Sisters that brings together prominent figures in the local community to create some form of art to be sold at a live auction.

The pieces, which vary from oil paintings, to photographs, to pencil sketches are then auctioned off to the general public at the event itself. The painters generally consist of people such as: local school principals/presidents, recent pageant queens, radio/news anchors, and local police/fire chiefs. Once the art is auctioned off the proceeds then go towards the countless activities between “Bigs” and “Littles” all around the area, as well as the recruitment and training of new “Bigs”.

As Big Brothers Big Sisters own Ryan Flynn said "Look Who's Painting has become an annual tradition for our organization. It gives us the chance to get community leaders involved with our mission and raise funds for our community matches and school-based programs."

Details:

The event will be held at The State Room at 434 South 8th street in Quincy, Illinois on Friday, November 4th. The doors will open at 6:30 PM and the live auction will begin at 7:00 PM. the price of admission is $20, which includes appetizers. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters to host Paw Patrol Extravaganza

Quincy, IL: Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois will be in Adams County for the first ever Paw Patrol Extravaganza on November 6th. The event will take place in Quincy just within the front doors of the Senior Center located at 639 York St., Quincy, IL 62301. The event will feature three main characters of the television show: Chase, Marshall, and Skye. 

They are currently taking ticket reservations for 2-3:30 PM, and if needed a second time slot will open up for 4-5:30 PM if ticket sales are larger than expected. Tickets are $10/person. You must call or order online at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois Facebook page to reserve tickets. There will also be activities available including arts and crafts, and table games! The Quincy Fire Department and Police Department will also be set up at the event and partaking in the fun!

Andrea Murray, program manager of Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois stated “Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-for profit agency that relies strictly on fundraising, grants, and private donations.  That's why events like the "Paw Patrol Extravaganza" are so important to our agency, fundraisers like these allow us to continue our mentoring programs in West Central Illinois.”

Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois Cindy Denby stated that “Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois is changing lives of children. Our children's opportunity for success increases by 80 percent in areas such as graduation, less likely to use drugs or alcohol, and joining the work force. We strive to make our children's lives better one match at a time.” 

Ryan Flynn, fundraising and social media coordinator of Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois, loves to bring new events to communities. Referring to the organization as a whole, Flynn stated, "This year, we won the Pinnacle Award for being among the best, most efficient, and life-impacting Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in the nation. But we need help in continuing that success. It takes approximately $1,000 to take a child through the entire match process, and get them a big brother or big sister. That is where these fundraisers come in and play a crucial role in the continued commitment to our community's youth."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Illinois is a youth-mentoring non-profit service organization that provides ongoing supportive services to children in need of a mentor. Visit www.bigbrothersbigsisterswci.org for more information.