For the Youth

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.

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.

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.