A Message of Thanksgiving

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”  – Albert Schweitzer

This 2017 Thanksgiving season marks an unprecedented moment in time for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas as we reflect on a year of dreams come true. With thanks to donors, volunteers, families and Littles, board members, staff, and the community, we’ve had a banner year.

We celebrate being in our new Mentoring Center for over a year and all of the opportunities that has provided. We are connecting with our community and matches in ways we’ve never done before.

  • Monthly Youth Activity Center nights in our building – evenings where Bigs and Littles come together for fun crafts, games and socializing.
  • Providing local meeting space for other agencies, businesses and organizations.
We are thankful for a year of achievement. In 2017 our work was recognized and honored with numerous awards:
  • BBBS National Board of the Year
  • 2017 Austin Business Journal Non-profit CEO of the Year
  • BBBS National Gold Standard Award winner
  • BBBS National Agency of the Year – finalist
  • 2017 Austin Business Journal Best Place to Work
2017 was also a time of new initiatives as BBBS launched several new programs:
  • Bigs in Blue in partnership with the Austin Police Department.
  • Big Futures, which continues our work with matches as Littles enter their first years of college or the workforce.
  • Big Impact Group – a new group of BBBS volunteers committed to increasing support of and for BBBS in many ways.

We have a dynamic professional staff in place, a new facility, our quality metrics are at an all-time high, and we have a mentoring model that works. Our dreams are a reality because of you.

I am so thankful for your commitment to BBBS’ mission. We are grateful for the opportunity to work alongside you as we strive to make every child’s dream of success come true.

Warmest wishes,


Brent Fields
CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas

BBBS Today: A Conversation With Brent Fields

2017 has been a year of awards for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, with the most recent award going to BBBS’ CEO Brent Fields, who was just named the Austin Business Journal’s Non-Profit CEO of the Year. In the past twelve months, BBBS of Central Texas has received recognition as an Austin Business Journal Best Place to Work, a BBBS National Gold Standard Agency award winner, a BBBS National Agency of the Year finalist, and a recipient of BBBS’ National Board of the Year award.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this recognition has been great,” Brent said. “We – the staff, the board, our donors, our volunteers, our families, and our community partners – have been working hard for years. We didn’t just suddenly start getting it right. We’re just fortunate that at this moment in time we are really seeing the fruit of our labor.”

“This recognition means a lot to me personally because I think for years now a number of people have been trusting me, trusting our team, and trusting our vision,” Brent continued. “I love that so many of our supporters can feel they’ve made the right investment, and that our work provides a good return on their trust and support.”

Brent became CEO of BBBS of Central Texas in 2008 at a critical time for the agency. “When I came on board the agency had been in existence for 35 years and was well respected in the community. I found there was tremendous passion for the mission and that the agency had just come through an aggressive growth period relative to the number of kids served,” Brent explained. “Unfortunately, that growth was not sustainable. It required more infrastructure than the agency could afford, so we were immediately in crisis repair mode.”

To get the agency onto stable financial ground Brent utilized what at the time he considered his greatest strength – knowing what he didn’t know. “When I came on board, I spent a lot of time listening, observing and assessing,” Brent said.  “During my first days I was just trying to get my arms around the state of the organization, even bringing in an outside group to do an audit. That helped me quickly identify what our business should be, and what was most urgent in my role.”

In the decade since, the agency has evolved into a stark contrast of it’s former self. “Ten years ago we were in a building in need of repair, and now we’re in this amazing, beautiful, intentionally designed facility that not only suits our needs today, but will for decades to come,” Brent continued. “When I started, we had unpaid bills and little cash on hand. Now, we have what are considered to be best operating practices, operational reserves, and a $5 million dollar building that is paid for.

According to every metric you look at, whether related to staff, board, infrastructure, performance, morale, or programmatic outcomes, we’ve seen an amazing transformation. And this is not just because of my tenure. It’s because of all of the things that staff, donors, board members, volunteers, families and supporters have contributed to our work over the years.”

Some of Brent’s most meaningful memories at the agency revolve around those who have contributed. “I’ve been serving in some sort of leadership role for several decades, and some of the most treasured experiences I’ve had are things I’ve seen and experienced at BBBS,” Brent recalled. “I remember staff and board members and supporters enduring some really difficult days. People who hung in there with us and who showed they cared. Who believed that we would come out of the storm and that we would see better days. I remember that.”

Another memorable event occurred soon after Brent became the new CEO and decided to become a Big Brother. “I was semi turned down,” Brent laughed. “When I joined the agency I was immediately struck by the power of mentoring. So, it seemed logical that I should become a Big. I wanted to walk the talk. I told the program staff that I wanted to become a Big Brother and they said, ‘We’ll begin the process.’ In one of the enrollment interviews I noticed that the interviewer wanted to say something, but that she was uncomfortable. I finally said, ‘I feel a tension here. Could you just say what’s bothering you?’ And she said, ‘Well, Mr. Fields, I’m not sure you should be a Big Brother right now.’”

“I said, ‘Really? Could you tell me more about that?’  and she said, ‘You just became our new CEO, you’re a new dad to your third child, and you have a lot going on. Is this really the right time for you to take on a mentoring relationship with a vulnerable child who needs your full attention?’” Brent said. “And you know, the minute she uttered those words, I knew she was absolutely right. I went home that night disappointed that I shouldn’t be a Big at that time, but I’ve never been more proud of our program and of how we put kids’ needs first. That is a great example of the thought and intention that goes into what we do.”

A year or two later Brent did become a Big, when the time was right. “To this day, being a Big has been one of the most transformational experiences of my life,” Brent continued. “But it does say a lot about fit and timing. And we’re really good at figuring that out and at helping people determine when the time to volunteer is right.”

Getting it right. Making an impact in a child’s life. It’s one of the things Brent loves about BBBS. “So many non-profits define their success in terms of how big their budget is or how many clients they serve,” Brent said. “I love that we don’t just count activities and clients, but we count impact. I think it’s crucial in this day and age when there is so much need and it’s so important to use every dollar wisely, that you know what kind of impact you’re having. It’s not enough that we serve 1,000 kids a year, it’s important that we know we’re making a difference in their lives. I love that about this organization. It’s what gets me up in the morning and makes me excited about being here.”

“And I love sharing with people that at the end of the day our highest calling, our greatest obligation is to these students and their family members,” Brent concluded. “We can’t afford to get it wrong. We can’t take shortcuts. I’m really proud of that.”

“In the past year, we have moved into a new facility. We have developed some new programs and initiatives. We have a dedicated, highly skilled staff in place. Our model of mentoring provides life-changing benefits for children, families and volunteers, and our program metrics are at an all-time high. With all of these ingredients in place, our greatest challenge, and our greatest opportunity, is to raise the funds that will allow us to serve more kids.”

“We have a lot to be thankful for, and much to look forward to.”

See our video interview with Brent Fields here

A Message of Gratitude From Our CEO

thankful-banner-11-002copylt
“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
—William Arthur Ward
 Greetings,

As we approach this season of Thanksgiving, we have so much to be thankful for at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas.

We have reached an exciting moment in our history with our move to our new facility – the Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center. It’s a moment that has been 45 years in the making. A moment that connects our past, our present and our future. A moment made possible by the work, efforts and involvement of all who have come before us… all who have contributed to making BBBS what it is today.

This is a moment for gratitude.

As I reflect on this unique moment in time, I am grateful to all who have been part of our rich history, who have been part of our work and who have shared in our journey.

I am also grateful for our agency’s 45 years of impactful service in the community, and for the opportunity to continue this work as we move forward.

I am grateful for the creation of this new mentoring center, a place that has been a hope, a need, a dream and a passion for many people, in many ways, over many years.

I am thankful for, and excited about, the new ways this facility will impact our daily work and our work in the community. We are already seeing some of these impacts now:

  • For the first time in our history, our staff and belongings are all under one roof
  • At our October BIG Fall Carnival, our first event in this new location, our new space allowed us to invite all of our matches, volunteers, friends, associates, children and families on our waiting list, alumni, neighbors and others into ‘our house’ – something that has never before been possible.

As I look to the future, I am grateful that we now have the resources in place that will allow us to dream bigger and to think more aspirationally about the impact we can have as we go forward.

Finally, in this season of gathering with those we care about, what I am most grateful for is you. I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate this moment with you, grateful for your role in our lives and our work, and grateful for the privilege of continuing this mission together as we work to improve the lives of children and families in Central Texas.

Warm wishes,

Brent Fields
CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas

Untitled-1

Giving Thanks

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference
in our lives.” – John F. Kennedy

Greetings,
One of our families recently shared the following with us:

“Brandon has been my son’s Big for over three years and has become a part of the family. During the recent floods, Brandon picked my son up from a flood shelter when neither I, nor his school, could get him home. Brandon kept my son safe until the water receded and I could come get him.

The next day, Brandon brought us candles and phone chargers because our power was still out and our phones had gone dead. This was a huge help because family was trying to call and check on us, and our only source of news was our phones. I am so very thankful for Brandon, and everything BBBS has done for my child and countless other children. I know my son will make a great Big one day.”

Big Brandon Barber and Connor Hill_2950 smAs this Thanksgiving season begins, I’d like to stop and thank each of you for the difference you’re making in lives all across our community. BBBS is approaching 45 years of service in the Central Texas area, now reaching nearly 1,000 mentoring matches as we work to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. It all happens because of the support of friends like you.

We are so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of your life and the lives of the children we serve. In the next several weeks we will be sharing more inspiring stories with you as we focus on giving that makes a lifetime of difference. Please watch for them in your inbox and on our blog, and share them with your friends and family.

If you are not already on our email list, you can sign up here

In closing, enjoy this time of Thanksgiving.

Warmest wishes,


Brent Fields
Chief Executive Officer