Community members gather to celebrate the newly formed Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin and the opening of its new facility in Neenah. The Community Foundation assisted as convener in the merger of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region and Best Friends of Neenah Menasha. The merger took effect Jan. 1, 2020, and was supported by many organizations and individual donors including grants totaling $30,000 from the Bright Idea Fund, the Robert Dohr and Lilas Dohr Current Community Needs Fund and an anonymous fund within the Community Foundation.
By Lindsay Fenlon, Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin
There is nothing quite like seeing two years of hard work, sweat, and yes, even tears, come to fruition. This week, that’s exactly what our professional team members and board of directors had the incredible fortune to do.
In concert with community donors, funders, youth and families served, volunteer mentors, and all in between, we formally opened our new office location and celebrated the public launch of our newly merged agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin.
Throughout this journey of nonprofit merging, I have continued to be humbled beyond measure at the outpouring of support from our community. From the beginning seeds of conversation, we’ve had community giants like the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region stand tall with us and say “Dream Big. We’re in this with you!”
It was this outpouring of support and belief in our efforts to come together and be #BiggerTogether (our merger’s social media motto), that we captured throughout our building. When you first walk through the doors, you’re greeted with the maxim of “Big Dreams. Even Bigger Futures.” And upon entering our lobby, you see our guiding principle: Together, We Are Defenders of Potential.
Together, with our community, we’ve created one youth mentoring agency that has more staying power to be sustainable for the future. We are in the business of creating life-changing friendships with the next generation of community leaders. Together as one stronger organization, we are responsible for partnering with everyone in the community to weave a supportive network so that the kids of today can be the leaders we need them to be in 20 or 30 years.
Collectively in 2019, our agency served 665 youth in mentoring relationships through Calumet, Outagamie, Waupaca and Winnebago counties, and we had another 108 youth actively waiting on our “ready-to-be-matched list” for their chance at a Big Brother, Big Sister, or Big Couple.
Five years from now, our big vision is that Big Brothers Big Sisters is a premier youth mentoring agency known for inspiring meaningful impact in the lives of our volunteers, youth, and families served, for collaboration and empowering community change through cooperative ventures, and for being on the forefront of meeting the needs of youth in our community in innovative and creative ways. Mentoring today and in the future cannot look the same as it did when we were growing up. We need to help bring mentoring into the future and this is the agency that can do just that!
Thank you to everyone who supported this merger and a special recognition to the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region for investing in the spark of an idea back in the summer of 2018. Your financial and professional devotion to this project was a game-changer for our staff, our boards of directors, and most importantly, the hundreds of youth, families, and volunteers we empower.
Want to help bright ideas burn even brighter? Learn how to get involved as a donor, or learn how to apply for a Bright Idea grant as a nonprofit organization. Check out our current Bright Idea Fund results from 2019 – 2020!