Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County’s mission is to “create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.” By matching a “Big” to a “Little,” they create lifelong meaningful mentoring relationships.
The inspiration for some of those matches begins at the Big Brothers Big Sisters annual MatchMaker Breakfast, which will be held this year on Wednesday morning, Feb. 19, 7:30-9 a.m., at the Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison.
“This will be the fourth year we will be doing the Matchmaker Breakfast and it’s a great time of the year for us to invite the community for breakfast,” Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO Sandy Morales tells Madison365. “It’s really for anybody who wants to learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s not like our [Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County’s annual] Gala where we’re with all of these corporate sponsors and fundraisers. This is more for us to slow down a little and focus on the state of the organization, what’s going with Big Brothers Big Sisters and what we have planned.
“We always find people who have thought about being a Big and this event answers a lot of those questions from people who have been in the program,” she adds.
The Matchmaker Breakfast focuses on sharing the BBBS mission of mentoring, increasing awareness, and growing support in the community. It’s an event to learn about Big Brothers Big Sisters programs and impact.
“Being a ‘Big” is a rewarding experience. Through this event, you get to hear from the volunteers and how much they get out of this experience, too,” Morales says. “I remember a couple of years ago when we did this breakfast there was a Big Sister up on stage who told everybody that through volunteering, she became a better-informed voter. That was very striking to me because that is not why you go into doing this kind of work.
“You hear a lot about how there is a tale of two Madisons and how one side doesn’t know much about how the other side lives. I feel like a lot of our volunteers have learned this firsthand by volunteering,” she adds. “To some extent, a byproduct of being a Big Brother, Big Sister, Big Couple or Big Family is being more informed about other segments of the population.”
Littles are 86 percent kids of color, Morales says, and Big Brothers Big Sisters is always striving to get more people of color to become “Bigs,” especially black men. “Bigs” are always in demand because there is still a pretty large pool of “Littles” who are waiting to be mentored.
“The last I saw was that [the waiting list] was between 230 and 250 kids. Out of those numbers, there are 60 kids who have been waiting for a thousand days. There’s a variety of reasons why. So we’re hoping to find matches for them,” Morales says.
The MatchMaker Breakfast is a buffet-style breakfast. The coffee reception and sign-in start at 7:30 a.m. followed by breakfast at 8 a.m. All attendees are welcome to bring friends, family, and colleagues, Morales says.
“It will be a fun time. It’s the first thing in the morning, so it’s a great way to start your morning. I think everybody who goes to this breakfast will learn something,” Morales says. “It will be fun to hear the stories directly from the volunteers – they really embody the role of a Big Brother or a Big Sister and it’s pretty incredible to see.”
The Big Brothers Big Sisters MatchMaker Breakfast will be held Wednesday, Jan. 19, 7:30-9 a.m. at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club, 1 W. Dayton Street. For more information, contact Jill Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608.661.5437 ext.115.