Beach Pace, Chief Executive Officer, cell: (408) 627-1170
Impending Portland “Snowpocalypse” Forces Local Big Brothers Big Sisters Chapter to Cancel Largest Annual Fundraiser
Futures of 331 Portland-area children jeopardized
Impending snow showers, freezing temperatures and icy roads prompted Portland’s largest mentoring organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters, to cancel their premiere annual fundraising event–the Big Hero Gala–originally scheduled for this Saturday, February 9. The gala was slated to draw over 400 donors from across North America. Efforts to meet the event’s 2019 fundraising goal of $500,000 are fueled by the urgent need to match their waitlist of 331 at-risk youth with life-changing mentors.
Defending Potential for Portland-Area Kids
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a tested and proven model for changing the lives of children. In fact, kids who work with BBBS’s vetted and trained mentors experience better academic success, develop deeper connections in their community and achieve a high school graduation rate of 98%. Oregon’s statewide graduation rate is an alarmingly low 78% – the fourth lowest in the nation.
The organization uses the Big Hero Gala not just as a fundraising opportunity, but as a chance for the community to step forward and volunteer as mentors. At last year’s event, Portland Public School’s Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero pledged himself as a Big on the spot, as did numerous other community leaders. With the current waitlist of Portland-area kids surpassing 300, the need for “Bigs” is especially dire this year.
Of those vulnerable youth waiting for a match, 70% are boys. “We’re seeing a whole generation of young men reaching out for help, and we owe it to them to respond with urgency,” said Beach Pace, Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO. “Our waitlist is long because the Portland area trusts us, and it’s our duty to those kids.”
Support From the Community Is Needed
In the wake of the emergency cancellation, support for the locally-funded organization is needed. With unanimous approval from key donors, a dollar-for-dollar match rate on the first $100,000 in donations has been extended until Saturday, February 16. The organization is hoping this push will help them recover in one week what is usually accomplished in one night. Although nearly $63,000 has already been pledged, each “match” of an at-risk child and mentor costing the nonprofit around $1,500, it’s a far cry from the $500,000 Big Gala target that would have cleared the 300 plus waitlist.
With no other major fundraiser planned for 2019, BBBS is in jeopardy of missing their goal. This risk is about more than numbers, though. It’s about lives. “The positive effect of having a mentor goes beyond one individual,” says Pace. “Its impact is generational. Though we may see the Big Hero Gala as one night of giving, for these kids, the impact spans lifetimes.” Here is just one story of the 500 youth Big Brothers Big Sisters currently mentors in the Portland Metro area.
BBBS team is hoping the Portland community will find it in their hearts to make a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Portland area by visiting https://itsbigtime.org/donate/.