Monday, October 29, 2018

Making a Big Impact Helping "Littles"

In 2016, Katie Orlando, former executive director Big Brothers, Big Sisters (BBBS), had an idea to pilot a program called “Beyond School Walls” in the Cedar Valley. The program, which connects at-risk youth with workplace mentors, saw big success on the East coast, and Katie was eager to find a “testing ground” in the Midwest. CUNA Mutual Group seized the opportunity, and two years in, the program is going strong.

Every other Tuesday, BBBS busses “littles” to the CUNA Mutual Group campus in Waverly, IA, where they spend 90 minutes with their “bigs,” whether it’s participating in site-based activities, getting help with schoolwork, playing games or simply talking. Through this program, students get an opportunity to become familiar with the workplace and make connections with lifelong role models.  

“Our mission at Big Brothers, Big Sisters is to provide children facing adversity with one-to-one, professionally supported and enduring relationships that will change their lives for the better, forever,” said Jenna Mumm, Program Manager, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa.

This program is gaining momentum nationwide, and according to the BBBS of America, youth in communities that have participated in this program show improvement in school behavior, overall grades, self-esteem, communication skills and their desire to learn new things.

“As a big brother, I get to give back to the community and feel good about that,” said CUNA Mutual Group employee and Big Brother volunteer Dave SmolikHagen. “[My little] teaches me that there’s excitement in places I forget about, like seeing ducks walk across the road. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child can really help give you a better vision sometimes.”

Learn more about how we give back and focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a business.

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