Inspiring Us This Week: Big Brothers Big Sisters of NWA

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Each week, we’d like to take time to do a #FeatureFriday on an organization that is doing big things for child poverty in our community. We at the United Way of NWA are fortunate to have many, many organizations that we’re proud to come alongside and make a difference on a daily basis, impacting children in our own backyard.

This week, we’re proud to be featuring Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas. We asked Tami Shaver, Program Director, to share a little bit about their plans for their programs that received First Step Funding under the Children Living In Poverty (CLIP) initiative from United Way NWA. Take a look at what Tami had to say– we know their programs are going to do BIG things this year!

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Arkansas was recently honored to receive two First Step grants from The United Way! The first allows us to expand our already established youth mentoring program along the I-49 Northwest Arkansas corridor, and we are so excited to provide even more children with a positive and vetted adult to mentor them to reach success in life.  Our mentoring programs help children (“Littles”) stay off drugs and alcohol, stay out of fights, and stay in school through their one-to-one relationships with their adult mentors (“Bigs”).
The second First Step grant enables Big Brothers Big Sisters NWA to open and run a BBBS youth mentoring program in Siloam Springs. We have long struggled to determine how to best serve Siloam Springs, and were forced because of financial reasons to close the small presence we once had there. Siloam Springs is a part of Northwest Arkansas, but is far enough away so that they often get left out of NWA initiatives. This is a shame because the town’s dynamic community culture is enviable to many of us who grew up with small town and rural living.  Partnering with Bright Futures of Siloam Springs and having a Big Brothers Big Sisters office there, staffed by an employee who lives in Siloam, will ease the recruiting, enrollment and matching process because they will already know many of the kids and families. This local presence will also facilitate organizing activities for the Siloam matches, so that they can participate in agency events and activities without driving all the way to Fayetteville or Bentonville. We hope to match at least 25 children in Siloam Springs in our first year with a Big Brother, Big Sister, Big Couple or Big Family, thus giving them a needed boost to achieve success in life.
With that, I’d like to introduce our new Siloam Springs Manager! Tiffany Hansen has joined Big Brothers Big Sisters NWA and is excited to be able to serve the families of Siloam Springs. Tiffany and her family have lived in Siloam Springs for about a decade, and she will play a crucial role as she begins to recruit Bigs for the new Siloam Springs Big Brothers Big Sisters program.”