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October 13, 2022

BBBS Hosts a Career Panel for High School Littles

On Saturday, October 8th, the BBBS community gathered in the community room at Umpqua Bank in the Pearl District to host one of our ongoing high school workshops. Led by Program Coordinator, Ninfa Rodriguez, 22 Littles, Bigs, Siblings, and Parents came together to learn more about the different career paths and academic journeys of the six amazing panelists. 

The Six Panelists Included: 

-Andre Walcott, Ph.D., the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Advantis Credit Union and an Ambassador Board Member for BBBS. He earned his Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University. 

-Jimmy Hillman is the owner of, and hair stylist at, Concrete Treehouse Salon. He is the first in his family to start his own business. 

-Karen Foster is the Founder of KF Curates and an Ambassador Board Member for BBBS. She is an entrepreneur who curates equitable events and experiences. 

-Lilo Alfaro is a consultant for OPAD, working as a Producer, and AEA Stage Manager with a passion for theater and the arts. 

-Mizael Buron is the Manager of Umpqua Bank’s Pearl District Store and the Co-chair of the BBBS Ambassador Board.   

-Nick Brown is the Vehicle Field Sales Manager for Toyota North America. He shared his experiences growing up working in the car industry and his path from working at a dealership to working for Toyota’s corporate offices. 

During the first half of the event, panelists answered questions about their college experiences, and their path to their current jobs, and shared some tips they wish they had known as a senior in high school. At lunch, attendees enjoyed pizza from Ranch PDX and broke out into smaller group discussions, giving Littles the chance to connect with panelists, to ask them questions about their paths. 

Karen shared her experience attending Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL. “Attending a Historically Black University helped me believe in myself, I experienced so much growth during my time there. To be surrounded by people who looked like me, including my teachers, was something I hadn’t experienced before. If I could give you all one piece of advice, it would be to fight imposter syndrome and anyone who tells you that you can’t do something. You CAN and you all belong in ALL the spaces you enter.” 

Mizael told students the story of how he became interested in banking at an early age. “When I was in the 3rd grade, my class had a special career day visit from the Branch Manager of a local bank. The woman who came to speak to us made such an impression on me as a kid, it piqued my interest to want to learn more and pursue banking as a career. Throughout my life mentors have come in many forms, keeping yourself open to opportunities and open to learning will take you a long way. 

Andre stressed the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities that present themselves throughout your life. “Don’t change yourself due to the people around you! Surround yourself with forward-thinking individuals and if you fail at something, keep on trying.” 

The event wrapped up with a special drawing for high school Littles, the chance for two lucky students to win a tablet! As an agency, we hold quarterly workshops for high school students to continue their learning, as well as one-on-one support for college applications, financial aid, and FAFSA assistance and help with college scholarships.   To see more photos from this workshop, click here.

October 12, 2022

Impact of a Connection Gala Raises a Record Breaking $475,000!

On Friday, September 23rd the BBBS Columbia Northwest community rallied together at the Redd on Salmon after a two-year hiatus. The sun shined bright as guests arrived to enjoy the cocktail hour, packed with entertainment featuring saxophonist Eldon T. Jones, Finn the Magician, a 360 photo booth, and delicious cocktails from Tito’s Handmade Cocktails.

We were joined by a special guest speaker, Artis Stevens, President & CEO of BBBSA, who gave a moving speech about the importance of mentorship in the lives of youth. Alumni Little, Lindsey Murphy, celebrated her 30th year in contact with her Big Sister, Melissa, a science teacher that inspired her to start her wildly popular YouTube show, the FabLab. The night concluded with a celebration of the 2022 Bigs and Littles of the year highlighting the matches of Big Brother Gus and Little Brother Jason and Big Sister Monica and Little Sister Jeni who took the stage to accept their awards.

As a community, we were able to raise a record-breaking $475,000 in support of our one-to-one mentoring programs here in Portland and SW Washington. One of the best parts of the night happened among all the staff and event volunteers after the event when, Beach Pace, BBBS CNW CEO, rallied everyone together to take a moment to take pride in all the work we had all put into this event. A sincere thank you to everyone who made this event a beautiful success. It takes a village, and we are so glad you are a member of our village. 

Our sincerest appreciation goes out to our 2022 Gala Committee led by co-chairs Suzy Alexander, and Lee Lenker. A BIG thank you to our Presenting Sponsors Twenty Four 7 and Concentrix Catalyst, our Ignite Sponsors The Standard, OnPoint Community Credit Union, Nike, M Financial Group, Cambia Health Solutions, Andersen Construction, our Inspire Sponsors KPMG, Moss Adams, Comcast, Baird, General Sheet Metal, Hillsboro Hops, M Science, Sheldon Warmington & Janel Warmington, and Table Sponsors ACME, Advantis Credit Union, Brown & Brown Insurance. Barran Liebman LLP, Natasha Elhaj-Hedinger, Kaiser Permanente, Moda Health, North Highland, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Pacific West Bank, Parker, Smith & Feek, TM Rippey Consulting Engineers and Xenium HR!

To see photos from this amazing evening, click here. 

September 29, 2022

Alumni Little Sister Jane Joins BBBS Team as Workplace Mentoring Director

“I’m so thankful for the time I had with my Big Sister. Truly, without her, I would not have gone to college.” –Jane, Alumni Little Sister & New Workplace Mentoring Director at BBBS

At Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest, our team has built a strong community of compassion and caring that has Alumni Bigs, and Littles, coming back years later. Many come to us with a strong desire to pay it forward after having such transformational experiences in our program. Alumni Little, Jane, is now at the height of her career and credits her Big Sister for showing her the path to college. She has built a beautiful career directing career services at universities like the University of Oregon, Michigan State University, and California State University, Bakersfield. As the author of the book “WHO Logic: What, How & Outcome: A Practical & Tactical Valuation Tool for Career Management,” Jane is a master at coaching students on how to recognize the value of their skills for success in job interviews.  

Recently, Jane came back to her roots in the Pacific Northwest to lead a resume-building workshop for high school Littles and recently became one of Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest’s newest employees. Jane will be starting as the Workplace Mentoring Director on our Program team at the end of this month!

“My Big Sister and I were connected for five years. She was so pivotal to my growth and development from age 10-15. As a college student in her early twenties, she instilled in me the importance of an education to change my life circumstances.” said Jane. Match relationships can change the trajectory of a young person’s life helping them focus on higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships in their lives. Each match sets individual goals for the year to focus on things like academic performance, interpersonal relationships, and even serving the community together. The impact of a connection can last a lifetime and Jane is one of many Alumni Littles who has returned to help the next generation.  

Jane was excited to lead this workshop to share her experiences with Littles and to provide them guidance in building their big futures. The workshop was held at the BBBS offices and hosted students ages 13-18 and their Bigs. Jane began by explaining the importance of creating value propositions to sell your skills to an employer and they jumped right in for an exercise to try it out. Each student was assigned a generic product, with no branding, and they each went around the room to explain the selling points and value of their assigned object. This icebreaker gave the Littles a solid understanding of how to differentiate themselves on paper when drafting their first resume.  

Jane then instructed the group to switch gears to personalize the exercise, having them write down value points about an experience they have had, like a volunteer experience, club, or activity they have been a part of using her WHO Logic Framework. “This session was soul-feeding for me” shared Jane. They then looked at two sample resumes, one that had limited detail, stuck in the “What” when describing their past experiences. The other, which had robust detail, dove into the “How” listing skills and outcomes. The students were asked, if they were the hiring manager, which person would they hire? “The students REALLY got it and as they started to share out around the room, you could see the lightbulbs going off for them as they saw the importance of value propositions,” said Jane. 

There was one student, who was 13 years old, who shared with Jane that this workshop helped him realize that his resume was stuck in the “What” and he realized now that he had to be more descriptive. “I thought to myself, oh my gosh, this kid is going to rule the world one day. To care so much at 13, about his resume and future, it was powerful to see” Jane shared.  

Throughout the year, we host over a dozen high school workshops to help students learn about things like resume building, financial literacy, completing the FASFA, and learning about different career paths through a career panel. Last year 92% of the high school Littles we served graduated from high school, compared to the state average of 80%. We are on a mission to make sure that high school Littles have all the tools and support they need to create their own BIG, beautiful futures. We are so thrilled to have Jane as a part of our growing team.

August 18, 2022

Matches Brave New Heights at Tree-to-Tree Aerial Adventure Park!

On Saturday, August 13th, Bigs and Littles embarked on a day of adventure at Tree-to-Tree Aerial Adventure Park. It was a perfect summer day to spend outside in nature before heading back to the classroom. When each match arrived, they were greeted by the friendly familiar faces of their BBBS Match Support Specialists. The Tree-to-Tree team set us up with a private area where matches could connect, enjoy snacks, and rest when they needed a break from the adventure.

One of the best aspects of the event was the ability for Littles to meet and connect as a community. With heights being a BIG fear for many, both mentors and their Littles encouraged one another through each course. Chief Program Officer, Carolina, and her Little Sister Yeni were in attendance and Carolina shared, “I’ve never seen my Little so courageous in all the time I’ve known her! She really pushed herself and I could see her confidence soar! Thank You to all the donors who made this activity possible. We conquered the aerial obstacle course, raced each other on the zip lines, and my Little Sister, Yeni mustered up the courage to (safely) plunge off the 65ft treetop! Thank you for this end-of-summer adventure for BBBS Bigs and Littles.”

Big Sister Chiki reflected on her experience with her Little Sister Vanessa and shared, “At this match activity, Vanessa and I encourage each other to step out of our comfort zones! She was terrified at first on the Ziplines. By the end of the day, she had the biggest smile on her face while releasing one hand off the safety rope, yelling woo-hoo as she zipped away!! Her laughter was so contagious. We both took a huge leap of faith as we braved the 65ft Tree Plunge! That was terrifying but we were so proud of ourselves for literally stepping out of our comfort zone! The staff and other matches were so kind and fun to be around. The entire event was amazing!! We will forever be bonded over this experience, we faced our fears head-on, and we are still alive!! On the way home, we talked for 45 minutes non-stop that this was an amazing experience and how we both overcame what we were once scared of!

Big Brother Zackary told us more about overcoming his fear of heights with his Little Brother Taye by his side, “Tree-to-Tree was a great bonding experience for Taye and I. Being 9 years old, he is just old and big enough to do more of the “adult” things, so he was excited to do the most challenging parts of the course. He likes climbing around on things, so it was the perfect activity for him. Both of us had different levels of fear when it comes to heights, mine being quite a bit higher. But I think it was good for my little to see me feeling vulnerable and out of my element. A lot of the stuff we do comes easy to me just based on experience so it’s good for him to see me take on something I’m not very confident about and how we can help each other through those times, it was cool to help each other through those spots. Being at an activity with other matches and getting to see other Bigs interacting with their Littles was really cool. It gave me a bigger perspective on the impact of the program on the kids. I even helped another Big overcome his fears on the high-level courses. It was a really connecting experience for all of us.”

We host match activities year-round for Bigs and Littles! You can click here to support, to donate today, to invest in enriching the lives of Littles right here in our community! To see more photos from this day of adventure, click here to visit our community Flickr.  

July 15, 2022

Little Brother Oswaldo was awarded a $500 gift card through the Express Dream Big Project!

Little Brother and recent high school graduate Oswaldo won a shopping experience at his local Express through their #DreamBig Project. Express, a national partner of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, is focused on post-secondary success, empowering young people to reach their full potential.

Over the last year, Oswaldo has worked tirelessly on his FAFSA, college, and scholarship applications with BBBS Program Coordinator Ninfa. His hard work, determination, and positive spirit got him nominated to win this $500 shopping spree!

As the first in his family to graduate high school and continue to college, Oswaldo was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to pick out some professional outfits for his next chapter. In the fall, he’ll attend Portland State University to major in Business and Nursing. He wants to give back to the Latinx community by providing bilingual services.

Thank you to Express and the #DreamBig Project for recognizing this incredible young man! #BigFuture #BeTheFirst #Express #DreamBigProject #ItsBigTime

June 2, 2022

BBBS Celebrates 35 Matches Graduating from our Program:

On Thursday, May 19th, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest community came together at OMSI to celebrate the graduation of matches from the class of 2022. The hosts of the evening, Jaasyel Monroy, Match Support Specialist, and Ninfa Rodriguez, Program Coordinator for Futuros Grandes, led the bilingual ceremony for families and supporters to enjoy.   

As an agency, we were so thrilled to bring our community back together for the very first in-person graduation celebration since before the pandemic. Being together that night lifted our spirits and filled us with hope for the 35 graduates who are embarking on their path into adulthood.    

We had the pleasure of hearing from Alumni Little Brother, Gerardo Morales, who shared more about his 15-year-long match with his Big Brother Adam. Their match started when Gerardo was just 7 years old after his father had been incarcerated for the first time. Knowing that Gerardo would benefit from having a positive male role model in his life, Gerardo’s Mom signed him up for our program. Skeptical of his new mentor, Gerardo admittedly took a while to open up to Adam, but Adam’s patience, consistency, and friendship helped to build trust with Gerardo. As their friendship has grown, Adam is often the first-person Gerardo turns to for advice on how to navigate life as a first-generation college graduate, now out in the working world.   

One of the best moments of the night came when the graduates took the stage. Proudly sporting bright green graduation stoles, each graduate walked the stage with their Big, parent, or guardian. Of the 35 graduates, 13 students applied and won scholarships of $500 to begin their new journeys. With a 92% graduation rate this year, compared to the state rate of 80%, everyone in the room beamed with pride in celebration of all the Littles commemorating this special day. Thank you to everyone who made this special event possible, including our event sponsors OnPoint Community Credit Union, and Flowbird.   

To see more photos from the graduation celebration, click here to see our Flickr account. 

Our mission is made possible thanks to individuals like you. To help us continue this life-changing work, you can donate by clicking here.  

May 24, 2022

BBBS COLUMBIA NORTHWEST RECEIVES A $1.5M DONATION FROM MACKENZIE SCOTT TO TRANSFORM MENTORSHIP IN PORTLAND, OR

Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest announced today an unprecedented gift of $1.5M to transform mentorship in the Portland and Vancouver Metro Area. The gift, from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, supports the organization in furthering its mission to ensure young people have access to transformative mentoring experiences that empower them with a plan for their future and a mentor whose impact lasts a lifetime.

Today, nearly 11 million kids live in poverty and more than 13 million young people experience emotional, behavioral, or developmental conditions like depression. And during the height of the pandemic, 20 percent of youth served by Big Brothers Big Sisters nationally lost contact with an important adult in their lives. In Portland, OR alone, there are more than 226 young people, known as “Littles,” waiting to be matched with mentors, known as “Bigs.”

“We are incredibly grateful for Ms. Scott’s investment in our work. Her belief in our mission that all children can achieve their greatest potential through a 1:1 professionally supported mentor relationship feels fantastic.  The BBBS CNW team works diligently to support youth and their families. Through the pandemic, our staff was on the front lines with our families who were hit the hardest. To be one of only 38 out of 237 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country to receive a gift from Ms. Scott is an absolute honor.” said Beach Pace, CEO of BBBS Columbia Northwest.

This unprecedented investment is the largest donation from a single individual in Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia NW’s 20-year history and serves as a powerful message in recognizing the importance of investing in mentorship to build and strengthen communities and society as a whole.

“Ms. Scott’s recognition of our unrelenting commitment to our youth and families means so much. Her insightful funding of this unrestricted gift allows us to focus on service itself vs the reporting of the service. We are focused on the mentorship of youth in a child-centered, equity & diversity-informed way. MacKenzie Scott’s donation allows us to expand programs and increase recruiting efforts to do just that.” shared Korede Alabi, Chair of the BBBS Columbia Northwest Board of Directors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest believes no one person, organization, or gift alone can drive the significant impact mentorship can have on a young person’s life. It takes a village of mentors, volunteers, and donors to positively impact young people’s lives. This investment in Big Brothers Bigs Sisters Columbia Northwest and its community is an invitation for more people and partners to join in transforming mentorship for young people today and for generations to come. We invite the Portland community to invest in our local youth by supporting our mentorship programs and to consider signing up to become a Big today.

To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest and get involved as a mentor, volunteer, donor, or community partner explore our website: www.itsbigtime.org

March 22, 2022

Women's History Month: Celebrating Ambassador Board Member Karen Foster

We have been celebrating some of the amazing women in the BBBS community. Meet Ambassador Board Member, Karen Foster. The average age of a Little Sister in our program is 13 years old, so we asked Karen what advice she would give to her 13-year-old self:

“There are many things I would tell my younger self. First and foremost, I would tell her that she belongs everywhere! All places. All spaces. Nothing is off-limits. Be your own cheerleader. Don’t seek validation from other people. Hold on to fruitful and elevating friendships. Your circle should make you better. You can be kind AND still set boundaries. Put 10-15% of your money in a savings account. Celebrate EVERYTHING. Life just isn’t long enough. Saving nothing for later. 

Lastly, I would say, never stop learning, growing, and evolving. There will be situations and circumstances beyond your control… Some will be incredibly heartbreaking, and some will be filled with joy. Ride through the waves knowing that YOU decide your response to the unpredictability of life. Build the life you want with the freedom to edit along the journey.”

Karen is one of 18 Ambassador Board members helping BBBS forward our mission to match youth with caring adult mentors. To learn more about the Ambassador Board, please email Darcie at [email protected]

March 17, 2022

Big Brother, Mizael, Leads a Financial Literacy Workshop for High School Students:

Mizael Buron, Co-Chair of BBBS’s Ambassador Board and current Big Brother, recently led a Financial Literacy class for high school Littles in our program! Mizael is the Branch Manager for Umpqua Bank’s Pearl District location and has a passion for helping people with their finances.

During this workshop, Mizael gave high school students a tour of some vital life skills ranging from how to start a checking and savings account, through the importance of credit scores. He had a wonderful way of breaking the down each concept and using real life examples that Littles could relate to.

During this hour long session, students asked great questions like:

“How do taxes work?”

“How do students go about getting their first credit card?”

“How do people boost their credit score?”

“What do you think of crypto currency and NFTS?”

Mizael covered other topics like budgeting, the importance of saving, he explained tax brackets, and the responsible use of credit cards. He stressed the importance of staying current with your bills and paying more than the minimum balance on credit card statements to avoid high interest rates.

Near the end of the workshop, Little Brother Juan asked, “If you had the opportunity to give advice to yourself. What would it be?”

Mizael replied, “Save, save, save!” explaining that saving a portion of your earnings each pay check will really help in the long run.

Little Brother Josue was very thankful for the workshop sharing, “Thank you I definitely learned a lot today!”

Big Brothers Big Sisters Program staff member Ninfa Rodriguez, works with high school Littles all year round, organizing monthly workshops like this one! She works with students on their college applications & essays, the financial aid process, and even helps them with job interviews! Just a few of the many ways we empower the potential of the youth we serve.

March 1, 2022

BBBS Ambassador Board Co-Chairs Announced:

In November of 2021, we relaunched our Ambassador Board here at BBBS Columbia Northwest. These local professionals are helping our agency create and support one-to-one relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth by collaborating with the Board of Directors and staff, to strengthen and grow the impact of our mission in our community.

Over the last six months, we have grown the Ambassador Board to 16 members, with current Bigs, former Bigs, and community members all serving alongside one another. We are thrilled to announce Mizael Buron, the Branch Manager at Umpqua Bank’s Pearl District location, and Keenan Ordon-Bakalian, an attorney with Jordan Ramis PC, as this year’s co-chairs.

Mizael has been a Big Brother for almost three years to Little Brother Misael, a high school student who has dreams of becoming a dentist. Mizael shared that he has really enjoyed being a Big Brother, “Being able to help someone grow through their formative years and to provide guidance has been very rewarding.”

Keenan  has been a Big Brother to Little Brother Titian for two years. Titian is nine years old, and they have had a great time getting to know one another by taking trips to Blazers games, OMSI, and other adventures around Portland. Keenan shared that he has always been aware of the impact that mentorship can have on a young person’s life, and he is honored to be part of Titian’s support system.

Already this year, each Ambassador Board Member has selected committees to join to work collaboratively with the Board of Directors, increasing awareness about our work in the community and driving vital resources to BBBS.
February 24, 2022

Introducing the Black Youth Ambassador Group Led & Created by Amaya Gustave

We are excited to announce the launch of the BBBS Black Youth Ambassador Group, created and led by Amaya Gustave, Program Intern, and former Little Sister.

“To me, establishing a community where you are seen, uplifted, and championed is everything. BBBS Columbia NW gave that to me as a little, and I wanted to aid in continuing to further what we can do for our Black youth within the agency,” shared Amaya.

The Black Youth Ambassador Group is a group of high school aged Littles who are actively creating and celebrating a space for Black youth empowerment and advocacy within BBBS Columbia NW. Together they participate in community engagement and active discussions and workshops surrounding the Black experience. Students are given the space and encouragement to discuss ways they can contribute to strengthening the community not only amongst themselves but within the Portland metro area and any space they may find themselves in.

For their first meeting, they explored topics like:

  • Kimberle Crenshaw’s framework of intersectionality.

  • Social movements within the Black community

  • The impact of the Combahee River Collective and what intersectional feminism means to them

  • Environmental justice movements, the impacts of food deserts, and redlining in Portland.

“By having these active discussions, learning from not only the workshops but one another, we are further celebrating and validating our Blackness and our lived experiences. We are learning how we can advocate for ourselves and how we are seen in the world. We tell our Littles that they can reach for the stars, and this group furthers that notion! My hope for the Littles involved is that, as Black youth, they understand and know that the world is their oyster. As we grow and develop our collective efforts within this group, we will not only continue to empower one another, but continue to create community through discussion, explanation, and active participation,” said Amaya.

Next month the Black Youth Ambassador Group looks forward to discussing radical self-love and ways in which they, as Black youth, can show it to themselves. They will also dive into the themes of self-esteem, self-worth, aiming high, goal setting, and how to stop negative self-talk. We look forward to all of the amazing work they will embark on together this year. A BIG thank you to the Oregon Department of Education for funding the work of the Black Youth Ambassador Group. 

February 10, 2022

Welcoming Our New Board Chair, Korede Alabi

Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest is pleased to announce Korede Alabi as the incoming Chair of the Board of Directors. Serving on our Board since 2017, Korede has been an extraordinary leader and role model for the youth we serve. He serves on the Board alongside his wife, Hope Alabi, and will lead the 23-member Board of Directors for a two-year term starting January 2022. Korede is proud to be BBBS Columbia Northwest’s first Black Board Chair, to have reflective leadership for the diverse communities we serve here in Portland and SW Washington.  
 

In Korede’s professional life, he leads as the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President at General Sheet Metal. He is a multi-faceted finance thought leader with a proven track record of driving growth and increasing efficiency. Having worked for large companies like American Airlines, General Electric, and Vestas, Korede has developed his entrepreneurial energy and sharpened his focus on driving businesses to the next level.

As a strong advocate for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Korede is excited to contribute his expertise to the organization’s growth and impact in the community. Korede is committed to investing in the next generation and serving as an ambassador for the organization’s mission to defend the potential of youth through one-to-one mentoring relationships. We can’t wait to see all of the wonderful things we accomplish together under his leadership for the youth in our community.

January 27, 2022

Thank Your Mentor Day Featuring Little Sister Sheilisa and Big Sister Lacey

Today is Thank Your Mentor Day, a part of National Mentoring Month. Sharon, Mom of Little Sister Sheilisa, shared this heartfelt message about her daughter’s Big Sister, Lacey.
 
“A few months ago Sheilisa and Lacey celebrated their 7th SisterVersary, as Lacey puts it. She even sent my daughter Sheilisa flowers to celebrate the event. Lacey is a great Big Sister, consistent in their outings, even with us living in Portland and her living in Newberg, OR. Lacey is so loving, kind, and compassionate with Sheilisa, loving her through some adolescent changes, always supporting her in any way she can. Lacey is very thoughtful in the little things that she does to make their relationship special. She lets Sheilisa know that she matters and that she loves her and Sheilisa, who is not one to express her feelings, expresses love for Lacey too. Lacey never misses important events in Sheilisa’s life and has come to all of her Metropolitan Youth Symphony performances, with flowers each time! They have a great sisterhood, and I am so thankful for this program. Sheilisa having Lacey as a Big Sister has been a blessing. Thank you BBBS Columbia Northwest, for the good job that you are doing with your organization.”
 
To learn more about becoming a Big, visit: www.itsbigtime.org
January 26, 2022

Thank Your Mentor Day Featuring Little Brother Taye and Big Brother Zach

Continuing National Mentoring Month, we are kicking off  Thank Your Mentor Day with some words of gratitude from a few of the amazing parents of Littles in our programs. They wrote to let us know what an impact Big Brothers Big Sisters programs have had on their children. Little Brother Taye and Big Brother Zach have been matched for two years, starting when Taye was just 6 years old. Taye’s Mom, Molly, had this to say about the impact this match has had on her son’s life.
 
“Zach’s commitment and consistency have improved Taye’s quality of life in general. He has learned so much from Zach and shown an improvement in his confidence to try new things. Taye has had so much fun with Zach and is always positive when describing their interactions. We all appreciate the attention and influence that Zach has and consider his role in Taye’s life very important. We hope he will continue to be there for years to come. Thank you for all you do Zach!”
 

You can learn more about becoming a Big on our website www.itsbigtime.org/become-a-big/ 

January 21, 2022

National Mentoring Month: Meet Big Brother Hector and Little Brother Kevin

Meet Big Brother and Ambassador Board Member Hector, who shared why he decided to become a mentor:

“I am a mentor to my Little Brother Kevin who is 16 years old. We have been matched for a year and a half and even though our match is fairly new, I have learned so much from him already. I decided to become a mentor because growing up I felt extremely fortunate to have the support of those around me telling me “You can be whatever you want to be!” As I’ve gotten older, I realize that not everyone has that support and it made me want to give back. In Kevin’s company, I am constantly seeing the world through a different lens. He has shown such strength through difficult times and that resilience inspires and motivates me to be a better person.”

For Little Brother Kevin, his match with his Big Brother Hector could not have come at a better time. Upon enrollment, Kevin’s Dad shared that he was struggling in math. As a devoted Big Brother, Hector met with Kevin every week. The two would watch YouTube math tutorials during each meeting. After homework, they would play their favorite video game, Call of Duty. The extra time and attention Hector was able to offer Kevin helped him improve his grades in math and helped build his confidence overall.

The presence of a Big Brother has also been immensely helpful for Kevin’s father, a single Dad who also has a younger daughter to care for. Hector helps the family by lending a hand as an attentive adult in Kevin’s life. He is always up to taking Kevin out to get some fresh air and exercise, by going on hikes and other outings, giving Kevin the extra care and support he and the family needed. 

You can learn more about becoming a Big on our website www.itsbigtime.org/become-a-big/ 

January 12, 2022

National Mentoring Month: Meet Big Brother Keenan and Little Brother Titian

The month of January is National Mentoring Month. All month long we are proudly introducing a few of the amazing Bigs carrying out our important work. Meet Big Brother and Ambassador Board Member Keenan, and learn why he decided to become a mentor:

“My Little Brother Titian and I will be celebrating two years matched in February. I chose to become a mentor because I have a strong desire to give back to my community and those around me. I have been blessed with some incredible opportunities in my life, due in no small part to strong role models and mentors who have guided me along the way. Seeing the positive impact that mentors have had on my own life, I am now committed to play a similar role in Titian’s life and support him in all his endeavors, big or small. This experience has taught me just how fulfilling it can be to work with youth. They are so full of joy and optimism and being able to play a small role in encouraging Titian to achieve his goals has been incredible. Some of our favorite activities include attending sporting events and exploring our community through hikes and activities. Titian also has a deep love for dogs, especially huskies, and so we spend a lot of time with my Siberian Husky, Copper.”  

Did you know that at BBBS have 5 times more boys on our waiting list for a mentor than girls? #JointheVillage by becoming a #mentor today! You can learn more on our website www.itsbigtime.org/become-a-big/ 

January 6, 2022

National Mentoring Month: Meet Big Brother Mizael and Little Brother Misael

To help us celebrate “I am a Mentor Day,” Big Brother Mizael shared with us why he decided to become a mentor:

“My Little Brother, whose name is also Misael, is 18 years old, and we have been matched for two years. He is a smart young man who has dreams of becoming a dentist. I decided to become a mentor after a conversation with a BBBS staff member at a Latino networking event in Hillsboro. She told me there was a BIG need for male mentors, which intrigued me to look into what that involved.

Growing up, many of my role models were authors I looked up to, but nothing beats having someone in person that you can directly connect with. After researching Big Brothers Big Sisters, I was thrilled that I could help in this way, to help a young person during their formative years. Two years later my Little, Mizael, feels like my actual little brother. He has taught me so much during our time together, like how to be a better listener. I truly believe he has made me a better person; I know he looks up to me and that drives me to keep improving myself.”

Mizael also volunteers his time serving on Big Brother Big Sister Columbia Northwest’s Ambassador Board. Members collaborate with the Board of Directors and BBBS staff to strengthen and grow the impact of our mission in the community, to help us serve more local youth in need of a caring adult mentor. You can learn more about the Ambassador Board by reaching out to Darcie at [email protected].

December 28, 2021

Meet Little Brother Martin and Big Brother Sean

Little Brother Martin and his Big Brother Sean have been matched for almost two years, and already, Sean has had a BIG impact on Little Brother Martin’s life. Together, the two started an annual tradition of sitting down to establish their goals for the year ahead. 

Last January, in his junior in high school, Little Brother Martin set a goal to improve his grades so he could apply to colleges. He had been struggling with his studies, but thanks to the encouragement of Big Brother Sean, he focused on his school work and raised his GPA from a 2.5 to a 3.5!

Providing transportation to the BBBS office, Big Brother Sean was on a mission to help Little Brother Martin work on his college application, essay, and the financial aid process. As a result, Little Brother Martin was accepted into Portland Community College and will be the first in his family to attend college in the Fall of 2022!

By supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest, you are helping to empower youth in our community to reach their greatest potential. Little Brother Martin and Big Brother Sean’s story is another example that It takes a village to raise a child!”

You can help us match a child or teen with a caring adult mentor that empowers their potential and resilience today! Click Here to make a donation 

December 21, 2021

Meet Little Brother and Future Chef Jayden!

Little Brother Jayden was introduced to his Big Brother Rich when he was just seven years old entering the 2nd grade. Over the last nine years matched, Big Brother Rich has been an incredible mentor, friend, and a continuous champion of Little Brother Jayden’s potential. The bond the two have created has strengthened Jayden’s reading comprehension skills, has grown his confidence, and has improved his academic experience overall throughout the years.
 

Today Big Brother Rich and Little Brother Jayden’s friendship continues to flourish. Jayden dreams of one day becoming a chef. He and Big Brother Rich have been sharpening their culinary skills, trying out new recipes together. This year, Jayden was excited to join a special culinary program at his high school and is excited to build upon his future career. One thing we know for sure is that Little Brother Jayden is destined for BIG things!

You can help empower the potential of Littles, like Jayden, by investing in mentorship today!

December 4th, 2021

Our Partnership With Express Makes An Impact!

We are excited to be chosen locally in Portland for the Express Dream Big Project! Two of our high school Littles won gift cards to Express clothing store. We started with a shopping extravaganza, trying on clothes for best fit, and ended with Boba Teas and Subway bites.
 
Little Sister Vanessa shared that she spent close to $300 and wanted to save the rest of her gift card for her mom. Little Brother Daniel couldn’t choose between a sports jacket and a cool T-shirt. Thank you, Express and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, for this special experience for our Littles who are achieving their potential! Little Sister Vanessa shared, “I can’t wait to share with my Big Sister Ann all the awesome items I purchased!”
 
The Dream Big Project is Express’s giving and mentoring initiative that provides opportunities and resources for every generation of doers, makers, movers, and shakers.