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.