Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region and Best Friends of Neenah Menasha have announced plans to merge into one youth mentoring agency effective Jan. 1, 2020. The newly merged organization will be part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America organization and will be known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin. Currently, the two organizations support a combined 600 youth in need each year by pairing them with mentors throughout Calumet, Outagamie, Waupaca, and Winnebago counties. Together, the organizations have more than 150 kids on a waiting list for a life‐changing role model. (Photos courtesy of BBBS)
By Lindsay Fenlon, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region
“A rising tide lifts all boats.”
This quote has stuck with me this past year as I had the professional and personal honor of sitting at the table with leadership from Best Friends of Neenah Menasha (BFNM) and my own organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region (BBBS), as we discussed potential merger between our two agencies into one youth mentoring organization.
And in July of this year, the boards of directors unanimously voted that effective Jan. 1, 2020, our two organizations will merge into one organization focused on empowering mentoring relationships for youth throughout Calumet, Outagamie, Waupaca and Winnebago counties.
This new organization, to be known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin, will integrate staff and leadership from each of the existing agencies, the boards of directors will be comprised of representatives from each current agency, and all existing communities of service will continue to benefit from innovative programs, dedicated volunteers and remarkable youth.
Never in my career have I seen a group of people (i.e. our boards of directors and current staff teams) so committed to a singular cause: creating a sustainable, effective, and efficient youth serving organization that would ignite life-changing friendships for any and every youth who was courageous enough to say “I could use a friend right now.”
And never have I experienced such collaborative encouragement from community stakeholders as I did when we started to plan for the financial investment this process would require. J.J. Keller Foundation provided the initial financial support to conduct a partnership assessment and the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region was critical in empowering the merger negotiations, which started this past January, to begin immediately. Along the way, many philanthropic partners have stood by us as we embrace radical change to ensure the longevity of youth mentoring including: funds from the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, the Oshkosh Area Basic Needs Giving Partnership, Amcor Foundation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Oshkosh Corporation, and many others.
Currently, our two organizations support a combined 600 youth in need each year by pairing them with mentors throughout Calumet, Outagamie, Waupaca, and Winnebago counties. Yet, the need continues to grow as we collectively have more than 150 kids on our waiting list.
We are excited to be turning a page in our agency’s histories and welcome others to partner with us, with gifts of time, talent, or treasure, as we continue to work on defending the potential of every child in our community.
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