Dale Murphy on Bowl for Kids

 

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Dale Murphy is another long-time bowler and supporter of Bowl for Kids. We recently sat down with Dale to hear more about his involvement and his advice for others.

 When and how did you get connected with Bowl for Kids?

After becoming a Big Brother in 2005, I attended a couple of BBBS events and was asked whether I was interested in becoming more involved with the agency.  Bowl for Kids sounded like a great fit, and I joined the organizing committee for the 2006 event.

Why have you participated for so long?

The first year I participated (2006), I recruited several friends/colleagues from my industry (the American Society of Civil Engineers – ASCE), and folks from a young professionals group I was active in, not really knowing what I was getting us into.  Turned out the event was a ton of fun, was super easy to do, and I was pretty dang excited that the teams I recruited raised over $14,000 that year!

With that first bit of success, I felt encouraged to try a bit harder to get the ASCE members and companies more involved, as it really benefited both BBBS and ASCE.  We turned it into a fundraising competition among the various engineering companies, and with word of mouth from those who had already participated, it really started to take off.  On average ASCE gets 20+ teams and 100+ participants each year, most of whom are folks who come back year after year.  I can’t imagine anything else I could be doing that would have such a positive return.

Why do you feel the event is so important?

The event is a great way for people who might be younger or who are not in the financial position to be donating significant sums of money themselves, but who are passionate about BBBS and its mission, to have a positive impact on the organization.  Through a little bit of work recruiting folks and fundraising you can really make a big difference, and you get to have a blast doing it.

What would you want people to know about this event?

First, absolutely NO BOWLING SKILL is required! The bowling is just for fun and your score doesn’t matter in the slightest…That is pretty much always my first line when I try to recruit folks.  Second, it is shockingly easy to fundraise for this event, and most everyone far exceeds the goal with minimal effort.  Last, get your team to dress up according to the theme of the event. Costumes are a huge part of the fun!

Jess And Rebekah

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They’ve only been matched for a short time, but Jess and Rebekah are already busy enjoying their time together.

“As a Big Sister, I was looking forward to building a special relationship, being a role model, and also learning from my Little,” Jess said.  “I think relationships are reciprocal, especially in terms of growth.  And with Rebekah being a teenager, our relationship has been more like hanging out with an adult. It’s been really fun.”

The two have been exploring city trails and doing a lot of hiking, something Rebekah enjoys but doesn’t get to do with her family. “We like to do a lot of outdoor activities,” Jess continued, “but we also enjoy playing games and cooking.”

Rebekah was looking forward to having a Big Sister she could talk to and who has gone through some of the things she’s struggling with. “Rebekah is very wise and has a good head on her shoulders,” Jess added. “She knows that there are things she wants to improve upon, and she realizes her friends aren’t always going to be the best ones to help her with those things.”

As Jess points out, the more positive role models we all have in our lives, the better.

“It’s easy to get caught up in being adults and worrying about our full-time jobs, about insurance… about all of these things… and losing track of the child within us,” Jess concluded. “Being a Big helps me step back and say ‘What are the things in life that I really enjoy?’ It helps me appreciate the little things in life and allows me to have a relationship with a young person in which we can both learn from one another.”

Monthly contributions from our BBBS Game Changers make relationships like these possible. To learn more about how you can become a Game Changer, go to www.gamechangersaustin.org.

Amplify for BBBS’ Kids!

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Amplify Austin is Just One Month Away!

Amplify Austin is a 24-hour day of community-wide online giving, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas is excited to be participating for another year! This year’s goal is $20,000 to create more life-changing mentoring relationships for children in Central Texas.

Jeremy And Dylan

Big Brother Jeremy and Little Brother Dylan have been matched for over 2 years. They love going to Sonic to order Sonic Blasts with creative flavor combos, playing at Jumpoline, going bowling, and playing basketball.

“I’ve noticed Dylan’s confidence grow over time and I love seeing him come out of his shell. Seeing a kid recognize the potential hidden within themselves is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever witnessed. It’s like a light bulb that can only be illuminated by someone who genuinely cares about them and is willing to spend the time and effort to help them turn it on,” Jeremy said.

“I can’t say enough about the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. It truly changes the world, one relationship at a time.”

GET STARTED NOW!

  • Mark your calendar and donate between 6 p.m. March 2nd – 6 p.m. March 3rd.
  • Afraid you’ll forget? You can schedule your gift today!

Schedule Your Amplify Austin Gift to BBBS Today!

Give Now! 
The impacts of our program are great, but the need is even greater. For every child we serve there is another on our waiting list longing to be matched with a caring mentor of their own. With your help, we can provide more children with the opportunities for success they so richly deserve.

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Share our emails and social posts with your friends, and be sure to tag #AmplifyATX!

Big Brothers Big Sisters Opens New Mentoring Center

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas celebrated the opening of its new Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center on January 25th at Rathgeber Village in the Robert Mueller Development. Several hundred people attended the historic event, including the agency’s first executive director, first Big Brother, and one of the organization’s founding board chairs. Appropriately, the opening coincided with National Mentoring Month.

Smiles, tears, and excitement were on display as children, families, current and former Big Brothers and Sisters, donors, staff members, community partners and friends came together to mark this special occasion.

The event began with a dynamic performance by “The Thunder,” St. Stephen’s Episcopal School’s talented drumline. Following opening comments by Brent Fields, BBBS’ chief executive officer, guests were welcomed to the facility. Current Big and Little Brothers and Sisters cut the grand opening ribbon and participants were invited to tour the new building. Attendees enjoyed refreshments, a photo booth and the opportunity to share their favorite BBBS stories, memories, hopes and well wishes on specially created ‘Story Cards.’

“It was an historic milestone and a celebration of our rich legacy of community service; one that brought together our past, our present and our future,” Fields remarked. “I loved seeing many of our current Bigs and Littles standing beside our founders during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. It was truly a “passing of the torch” as current matches officially opened this amazing facility that will serve children and families now and for generations to come.”

“A favorite memory that I’ll cherish for a long time, was standing at the entry and seeing and hearing the buzz of activity from kids and families, our Bigs and staff. We’ve never had the space to host such a cross-section of people who are part of this mission,” Fields added. “It was pretty neat seeing everyone enjoying the time together. Bringing people together is what our work is all about, and this event underscores how our new Mentoring Center will allow us to do just that.”

BBBS staff also enjoyed seeing the reaction to the new facility. “People were so impressed by how big, how beautiful, how warm and welcoming the building is,” said Ellen Harsch, an enrollment supervisor who is celebrating her 10-year anniversary with the organization.

Work towards this day has been an overarching goal for many years as the agency outgrew its former physical location long ago. At approximately 24,000 sq. ft., the new building is four times the size of the agency’s former facility and it provides ample room for BBBS to serve more children, families and volunteers. Amenities include 6 dedicated meeting and interview rooms, a state-of-the art conference room, two exterior terraces, and a large youth activity center.

“In my entire professional life, I’ve never had a prouder moment. And it’s not just about bricks and stone, but about all that this building represents in terms of what it took to get here and what it allows us to do moving forward,” Fields continued. “It’s exciting to see the agency grow from an organization that was originally focused on providing mentoring services to 10 fatherless boys forty-six years ago, to one that now serves over 1,000 children and families, with a waiting list of over 600.”

“Now, for the first time, we are not constrained by space. We can now work on growing our organization to serve more kids and the community as a whole.”

Currently, there are several organizations working with BBBS to use part of the facility for future gatherings and events. Such community connection provides BBBS a unique way to tell its story and to create more awareness of the agency’s life-changing work. It also gives BBBS a way to ‘pay it forward’ and to support other community groups.

“There are a number of organizations that have shared resources and space with us when we have needed it,” Fields said. “Now we can offer the same service to others.”

“It’s amazing to think how many of our grand opening attendees might one day become Bigs, donors, or staff,” Fields concluded. “And this building will be a connecting point. Ultimately, this space will allow us to bring more people together, make more matches, serve in new ways, and engage more people in what we do and how we do it, expanding our impact in the community.”

In addition to Bigs, Littles, families, donors, alumni, staff, and friends, special guests in attendance at the mentoring center grand opening included Larry Guillot, BBBS’ first executive director; Doug Phelan, the agency’s first official Big Brother; Charles Morrison, one of the organization’s founding board chairs; Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, president of Huston-Tillotson University; Brian Manley, Austin police chief; and building donors and namesakes Laura and Kyndel Bennett, and Sara and Dick Rathgeber.

Grand Opening Comments, Stories and Reflections

As part of our grand opening celebration, guests were invited to share their favorite BBBS stories or memories, or to tell us why they are excited about our new mentoring center.  We received many beautiful responses.  You can read some of them here.

“There are so many things I loved and continue to love about BBBS… interviewing Littles & Bigs and seeing them as matches at events, craziness and meaningful moments at All-Staff meetings, being inspired by my own Little Sister and being matched for 4.5 years and counting, watching Brent run around trying to fix roof leaks at Tillery when it rained (leaks were always in a new spot), the fact that I’m able to have a new role as an advocate for the amazing work and mission that BBBS carries out.” –A Big Sister and Former Staff Member

“BBBS has given me so much: A career I love, a passion for mentoring, amazing friends and coworkers, my Little Sister. This new building will help BBBS continue to do these things for others and will help change people’s lives in the Austin community.” –A Current Staff Member and Big Sister

“I owe a great debt to BBBS of Austin for providing me with a friend for a lifetime. Dale and I were matched in 1981 when I was 7 years old. My father had recently passed away and Dale provided me the friendship and mentorship I desperately needed. I am a current board member and I still see Dale often! Thank you BBBS!” –David, A Former Little and Current Board Member

“When we were called for a match, I was happy. My daughter and her Big Sister have had a 1-year anniversary already and they continue to grow together. I love the program and hope to soon have my other daughter matched with a good Big.” –Mother of a Little

“I have been with the program for about 8 years now. My mom asked if I wanted to be in the program during my year of 5th grade. My grades were struggling. I had no guidance without a father figure in my life. I was matched with my Big Brother and we have been best friends ever since and have grown up together.” –A Little Brother

“I think the center is cool. My best memory is hard to choose because it’s all fun. Rock climbing was fun. I love my Big Sister. Also, this is a big building.” –A Little Sister

“The best memory with my Big was when I went to my basketball game. It was amazing.” –A Little Brother

“Thank you for all the fun activities you guys put on for Bigs & Littles. It’s amazing to see you grow from the small office to this mentoring center! Here’s to many more years of Bigs & Littles FUN!” –A Big Brother

“My favorite memory is every time my Little and I work on our scrapbook, because we get to reminisce on all our outings.  I’m excited for what this new building will have to offer in terms of activities.” –A Big Sister

“I love seeing our Little grow and becoming a confident young man who has an amazing future ahead of him. My husband and I are privileged to say we are a part of his life.” –A Big Couple

“I have seen so many ‘magic moments,’ but there’s something really special about watching our kids walk our BBBS Scholarship stage and hearing about all the awesome post-educational plans they have! We are surrounded by so many fans, supporters and families. I am SO happy to now have a ‘home’ that they can all visit and enjoy.” –A Current Staff Member

“My wife and I were both Bigs in 1994-95 in San Antonio. We ended when our Littles ended the matches and we had our own kids. I was able to re-join the agency in 2013, joining the Board of Directors. It’s been such a pleasure to re-engage and be part of the wonderful growth of this agency.” –A Current Board Member

Thank you all for being an important part of OUR story! If you have your own BBBS memories and comments to share with us, please send them to Brenda at blindfors@bigmentoring.org 

BBBS’ Big Futures Program

A mixed race teenage girl is taking a high school standardized test in class. She looks down and works on the test.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas exists to help children achieve success in life through one-to-one mentoring. BBBS currently serves children ages 6 to 18 years of age, and the agency’s formal relationship with each match ends when a Little becomes 18 years old or graduates from high school. However, a new program called Big Futures may extend the length and type of services that BBBS provides for Bigs and Littles.

“By closing matches at 18 or at graduation, we are missing out on the opportunity to positively impact our young people as they are entering adulthood – one of the most pivotal times in their lives,” said Joe Strychalski, BBBS’ Vice President of Programs.

Big Futures will offer on-going support to Bigs and Littles beyond the high school years, help Littles fully utilize BBBS’ Scholarship Program, and provide additional resources and support regarding post-secondary education and career readiness.

A handful of matches whose Littles graduated from high school last year are currently working with BBBS to develop and define this new program as a pilot project.

“Many of our young people come from challenging backgrounds and are often the first in their families to attend college,” Joe continued. “Our goal, especially in the early stages of this pilot, is simply to better understand the needs of our young people as they transition into adulthood and to continue offering support, encouragement and guidance to help them get where they want to go.”

Eventually, Joe sees the program providing resources and training to students in middle and high school as well.

Big Brother John and his Little Brother Jaylon are involved in the Big Futures pilot program. Although Jaylon is a college freshman in Alabama and John doesn’t see him as often as he did during Jaylon’s high school years, the two are still in contact. John is currently providing support to help Jaylon stay focused on his goals in veterinary science.

“Big Futures is a great idea,” John said. “With BBBS’ current age limits for matches, you help someone get through high school and then it’s like ‘Hey, good luck in college.’ And college is a really different animal, with a lot more freedom and responsibility. If kids need a helping hand to get through grade school and high school, they are likely to need support as they transition to college.”

Rob Richardson, a Big Brother and benefits specialist at the University of Texas at Austin, agrees. Rob has worked in the college environment for over 16 years, spending a large portion of that time training resident advisors and, more recently, working with student judicial services. Rob has counseled students on everything from roommate conflicts to allegations of cheating to police charges.

“The years between ages 18 to 22 are a crucial developmental time,” Rob remarked. “This is when students are building habits they will have for a lifetime, they are in transition getting new class schedules every three months, and they are learning to create structure for themselves for the first time. The Big Futures program will provide Littles with consistency and support during these years.”

“Support is so important, especially in the first year of college when students are making decisions about their majors and how to spend their time,” Rob continued. “I’ve seen students fall into the trap of wanting to do everything, and then I’ve seen the opposite, students who have trouble engaging with the campus community. Continuing the BBBS relationship will offer Littles stability as they are developing ideas about the world and about their purpose.”

BBBS’ pilot project is currently focused on identifying the most important issues and needs that young people have following high school. The agency will then work on developing a range of tools, activities, and resources to support Littles as they navigate their respective paths toward adulthood.

Helping students prepare for success doesn’t just mean college prep work either. Big Futures will support youth around the three “E’s” – Education, Employment and Enlistment.  The program will serve as a resource for students wanting to attend college, enter the job market immediately after high school, or enlist in military service. Matches will be able to access information on job readiness, resume building, work/life skills, and enlistment requirements.

“We recognize that we are not the experts in any of these areas and we don’t want to be,” Joe explained. “There are numerous agencies doing fantastic work in each of these realms. Our goal is to guide young people to the most useful resources for them.”

“This is one of the most exciting things I’ve experienced in my 9+ years at BBBS,” Joe concluded. “This program will give us the opportunity to truly experience the life-changing power of mentoring as our youth transition from childhood into adulthood. Big Futures will allow us to help Littles use the confidence, skills and aspirations that they’ve built through their matches as they move toward achieving the ‘success in life’ that our Vision proclaims.”

If you’d like more information on this or other BBBS programs, please contact us at 512-472-5437 or visit our website at www.Bigmentoring.org

Spotlight on Candace Bunkley: BBBS’ Scholarship Program Coordinator

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Big Brothers Big Sisters is mission-focused. It’s no wonder that many of the agency’s staff members are as well. Candace Bunkley, BBBS’ Scholarship Program Coordinator, wanted to work for an organization that “had a mission and was doing a good job.”

Candace previously worked for a healthcare law office as an office administrator. After an internet search, however, she found the organization she wanted to be part of: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. She began with a part-time position in customer relations before moving into her current role overseeing BBBS’ Scholarship Program.

“My primary role is to receive and process scholarship applications from Littles,” Candace explained. “I process their paperwork and help them understand the requirements for BBBS’ Scholarship Program.”

And that’s just the beginning. Candace also oversees the program’s daily operations which include sending scholarship payments to various colleges, tracking program spending, and coordinating BBBS’ annual scholarship awards ceremony.

In addition, she provides general scholarship and college information to students. “I love hearing what our Littles are majoring in and what schools they’re going to,” Candace continued. “And the fact that they understand the requirements of the different universities and of our program, and that they are keeping up with those responsibilities, is a testament to how well they’re succeeding in school.”

Helping Bigs, Littles and families understand the requirements for enrolling in college can be challenging. “If students can’t get enrolled in time because they don’t have everything completed, I can hear the disappointment in their voices,” Candace admitted. “But I remind them that their BBBS scholarship will be available whenever they are set to enroll. Overall, I’m really impressed with how well our students stay on top of things. They are really doing a great job.”

Candace’s goals for the Scholarship Program include increasing the number of Littles who access their scholarships each semester, and helping them connect with other educational resources in the community.

Candace doesn’t work all the time. She enjoys being involved in her church, Austin Stone, and taking classes through Austin Community College. She also spends a lot of time with her dog, Dolly, a miniature Maltipoo.

“Our Bigs work so hard at getting their Littles to dream big and to think about their goals for the future,” Candace continued. “I think my favorite part of the Scholarship Program is helping Littles achieve those goals and supporting the work our Bigs are doing.”