Game Changers: Growing Support For Children in Need

toni-schach-headshot-cropBig Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring services are often life-changing for the children, families and volunteers involved.

The impacts of our program are great, but the need is even greater. BBBS serves approximately 1,000 children each year, but for every child we serve, there is another child on our waiting list longing to be matched with a caring mentor of their own. And, as our population grows, the demand for our services grows with it.

To address this need, BBBS has developed a new program called Game Changers.

“Game Changers is a program that encourages individuals to make monthly contributions to BBBS,” said Lauren Portley, BBBS’ vice president of development. “Individuals who sign up to become Game Changers will receive regular communication regarding how their contributions are impacting children and helping BBBS make new matches, and, as members, they will also be invited to participate in unique networking and social events throughout the year.”

The program offers a great opportunity for people who can’t spare the extra time to be Bigs to contribute, as well as providing an introduction to giving. “A lot of people are at an early stage in their careers and can’t afford to give at a ‘gala’ level, but they’re looking for ways to give back,” said Toni Schach, operations manager for The HT Group and BBBS’ new Game Changers committee chair. “Maybe they’re not ready to be a Big but they have some extra money that they could contribute. With Game Changers, gifts of any size make a difference. Anything from $5 to $50 a month or more goes a long way.”

In addition, Game Changers will allow more people to be involved with BBBS on an ongoing basis. The new program will provide a continuous source of income for the organization and lessen its dependence on fundraising events that happen just once a year. “Events like Ice Ball and Bowl for Kids are important, but BBBS needs money and participation year-round,” Toni explained. “With Game Changers, BBBS can host smaller events more frequently, provide a wider range of giving opportunities, and foster new relationships.”

Relationships are central to BBBS’ work, so it is only natural that they play a part in raising funds for the organization. Game Changers will take interpersonal connections to new levels as unique events are planned for existing members and to recruit new members.

“We are planning a kickoff event in November that will include networking with a twist. It will be fun,” Toni said. “We’re also thinking about holding a scavenger hunt around Austin or possibly conducting a brewery tour. Activities like these will allow participants to bond with people they wouldn’t normally meet, have a great time, and raise money for a great organization.”

BBBS is looking for volunteers to help plan and organize Game Changers events, businesses that want to participate, and most importantly, individuals who want to sign up to become Game Changers. “We’re looking to build a community,” Toni added. “I also believe that when new or prospective members come to a meeting and hear how children’s lives are being changed, they will want to be a part of BBBS’ mission forever.”

The notion of starting small and building up mirrors Toni’s personal association with BBBS. Her job requires her to work varied hours, so she has been unable to commit to being a Big. However, since signing up to help with Ice Ball in 2015, her involvement with BBBS has steadily increased.

“I had heard about BBBS growing up and I’ve always thought it was a great organization. I don’t have children, but have always loved them,” Toni admitted. “I can’t hang out with a Little first thing in the morning or at 10:00 p.m. when I get off work, so my committee work is a way to help the children in our community.”

“I see the difference BBBS’ one-to-one mentoring makes,” she said. “I was fortunate to grow up with parents who had their own business, and I got to spend a lot of time with them. But I also had a lot of friends who didn’t have that stability and I saw the direction some of their lives took.”

Toni believes that one-to-one bond is priceless. “Nothing can replace having someone to go to for advice and support.” And the impacts of BBBS’ mentoring program bear this out. “When I hear about the numbers of Littles who stay in school and graduate, it’s amazing and very motivating.”

It is also a positive cycle. “The more children we get off the waiting list and into mentoring relationships, the more children graduate and start contributing to the community, and these children often become Big Brothers and Sisters themselves,” Toni said. “BBBS is a perpetual-motion kind of organization. Getting kids off the waiting list is a big priority, and Game Changers is an important way to make that happen.”

Sign up to become a Game Changer here

Contact Lauren Portley to learn more

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