BIG Happenings Spring 2018
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham
Takyia was a member of the bridal party at Carol’s wedding
Kysier and Ben at their match meeting in 2008.
Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year
Each year Big Brothers Big Sisters names a Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year. This title goes to two volunteers who have built a long-standing and meaningful relationship with their Little. This year’s Big Brother of the Year is Ben Murchison, and the Big Sister of the year is Carol Meadows.
As Kysier and I draw closer to our 10 year anniversary in BBBS, I find myself reflecting on the first day we met. Prior to our first meeting, I’d interviewed with BBBS to tell them about my interests, beliefs, and why I felt compelled to become a Big Brother. At the end of the interview, the person interviewing me said she felt confident that she already had a match in mind for me. While I can’t recall her name, I hope she knows she hit a homerun by matching me with Kysier. She not only paired me with a wonderful kid, but also with a tremendous family that I remain close with to this day. I felt an instant bond with Kysier, along with his Mom, Lesonja, and his older brother, Romey. They are my Birmingham family and I would do anything for them. There are many special moments and events that I can highlight
throughout my time with Kysier, but I’m equally fond of what became our ‘routine’ for so many years.
. On most Saturdays, I would pick Kysier up early and take him to the YMCA to play basketball, swim, and lift weights. We’d catch up on the previous week’s events in school (and Auburn football) on our drive to the Y, and we’d usually talk through any issues he was having during an always competitive game of one-on-one basketball. He won. A lot. Our Saturdays would always conclude the same way; a trip to Moe’s Southwest Grill for Nachos.
I feel these days were where he and I truly formed our bond and got comfortable sharing our feelings with each other. While we often stuck to our routine, we did do a lot of other fun activities. We took several trips to Auburn for big football games, and also attended countless Samford University sporting events. I always felt it was important for Kysier to see the benefits, and fun, that come with going to college. Perhaps my fondest memory is Kysier being a groomsman for my wedding in 2017. He kept me company and calmed my nerves during the morning of my wedding as I anxiously awaited the ceremony and wrote my vows. As he walked down the aisle with the other groomsmen I smiled and reflected on the smiling 3rd grader I’d met back in 2008 who wanted to talk about sports as soon as I met him. He’d grown into a smart, athletic and motivated young man with a very bright future.
My wedding would not have been complete without him being there,“Iand I hope I’ll one day know thethat future be walking down the holds manyaisle as a groomsman for for him.Takyia There are blessings countless other memories and I am thankful I can recount, butday these ones stick out every that I was the most. Being a Big for able to help make aKysier has broadened my overall view difference.” of the world, has been rewarding beyond measure, and has changed my life forever.
I have always been a person who enjoys giving and spending time with kids. I was single with no children for a very long time. My friends were encouraging me to maybe adopt but I did not think I was quite ready for such a huge change in my life, especially since my job required a lot of traveling. I knew I wanted to do something that involved helping kids. I would often see the commercials and other marketing pieces about being a Big Sister. continued on page 3
Sue Says It never ceases to amaze me just how quickly a year can go by. With a new year well underway, we are looking forward to a year of growth and opportunities to serve even more children. This is the time of the year that people tend to focus on resolutions and selfimprovement. I encourage you to resolve to make this year the year that you become a mentor to a child facing adversity. With over 90 children on our waiting list, some for over two years, you can truly be the difference. In 2017 we had the honor of serving over 1,300 children in our community. Through our traditional, communitybased program, our school-based program, and our workplace mentoring program, we were able to serve children in innovative ways, but the center of our mission is always one-on-one mentoring.
the City of Birmingham and Mayor Woodfin who proclaimed January as National Mentoring Month for the City of Birmingham. On “Thank Your Mentor Day” our staff recognized all of the Board Members, Young Advisory Board Members, School Personnel, donors and most of all volunteer mentors who make what we do possible. Not a day goes by at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office that we don’t recognize just how amazing the group of supporters around us is. We truly could not do it without you. Thank you for helping us make 2017 an amazing y e a r . With your continued involvement we resolve to work hard to recruit quality mentors, show the utmost compassion for the families and children we serve, and be advocates of mentoring in the community. Sue Johnson, CEO
In January we celebrated National Mentoring Month along with all of the other amazing organizations who value mentoring. We are so grateful for You’re invited to join us for our fourth annual night golf tournament. Hosted by the BBBS Young Advisory Board, Glow on the Green will be on April 27th at Highland Park Golf Course. Players will enjoy 9 holes of golf during the afternoon and 9 holes of golf at night. This is a one-of-akind tournament that features games, live music, a BBQ dinner, a raffle full of fantastic items, and an opportunity to play golf as the sun sets over the Birmingham skyline. www.glowonthegreenbham.com
Santa stops by Big Brothers Big Sisters One event that our agency looks forward to is our annual Holiday Party. We invite our Bigs, Littles, their Parents and siblings to join us for an evening of holiday cheer. This year, Chef Kennneth Moore and Members of the American Culinary Federation hosted a cookie decorating station. Each match got to decorate a cookie to take home with them. Matches also had an opportunity to do Holiday-
themed crafts and enjoyed photos with Santa. Probably the most anticiapted part of the party for Littles was visiting Santa’s bookshop. Thanks to the Grainger Foundation, every child went home with a bag of books that they hand-picked from the shelves. It was a magical night, and we’re so glad to be able to host special events like this one for the matches and families that we serve.
Goodbye to our dear friend Kathleen Kauffman Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about friendship, and we recently lost Kathleen Kaufman who was a dear friend. Kathleen served on the BBBS Board of Directors and as a Big Sister volunteer. She is pictured here with her devoted husband, Clarence, at the Sports Ball, one of our past fundraisers. When one of our Little Brothers won an art college scholarship and was holding an art show to raise money, Kathleen came and purchased some of his artwork. She was responsible for raising thousands of dollars for Big Brothers Big Sisters so that we could recruit and match children with mentors.
Dr. Iwan Alexander President
Even after Kathleen was no longer officially involved in the agency, she continued to participate in our fundraisers and lend her support in many other ways. Kathleen was our friend, and we sincerely appreciate all she did to help the children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. We will miss you dear lady. Godspeed Kathleen.
Shane Spray Vice-President Bill Clements Secretary Michael Anderson Chip Bivins Robert Buchalter Keith Covington Jimmy Cromwell
“Kathleen was our friend and we sincerely appreciate all she did to help the children”
Jeff Davis Shirley Finley Tom Francis Chris Gargala Willie Henderson Kimberly Jackson
Carols story continued
...I decided to do some research. I went online and read about the program and immediately knew that it was a perfect fit.
I first met my Little Sister Takyia at her grandparents’ house. The meeting felt as though I had been knowing Takyia and her grandparents all of my life. We immediately bonded and at that very moment, I knew that I had made the right decision to become a Big Sister. We planned our first outing Im quamus andendae venthat day, which was dinner at ient, occusdandita elecatem O’Charley’s where we could talk velicaborum senienis minctis and get to know each other. aturem sitat. It seems like it was just Aperum eic tem aut laborro qui yesterday since we went on a ut repernatur? Vit rem faciet Big Sister trip to the Governor’s aut ad quam, ulpari discitasim Mansion for an Easter Egg nihitatus magniet ad mi, etur re Hunt or we sat at the kitchen si opta si cores mos arum ium table in my home and worked hillique re et acepreh entionsefor hours on various homework qui alitatur ma qui ommoloris assignments. quibus enihil et, sollupti adiUt
Board of Directors
I have enjoyed taking Takyia to various rehearsals for plays and dances that she has participated in for many years. We have enjoyed trips to the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola Museum, U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Zoos and Parks to name a few. I have been there for every birthday, Honors and Awards Day and 8th grade graduation. My Little Sister Takyia and her family all attended my wedding and I shared in the celebration at her mom’s wedding. I can truly say that one of the most important aspects of my relationship with Takyia is that we both are strong in our Faith and belief in God. We enjoy spending time together at church and both are very active in church ministries. There have been some challenging times with school work and we have always been able to pray together and the outcomes have been successful.
Debbie Long My Little Sister Takyia is now in high school and on the Honor Roll, working a job and has her driver’s permit.
I stepped out on faith and committed myself as a Big Sister and not only have I been blessed with a little sister, but I have been blessed with another family.
I know the future holds many blessings for Takyia and I am thankful every day that I was able to help make a difference.
Mary Lauren McBride Clayton McKinnon
Daniel Pittman Josh Randolph Bill Steed Vance Waldron
Our Mission Our Mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-toone relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
Carol proudly attended Takyia’s 8th grade graduation.
Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 3174 Birmingham, AL 1901 14th Ave S Birmingham, AL 35205 205-939-5590 www.bhambigs.org Follow us on Social Media @BBBSBHM
Little Brother; Best Man
Andrea Decker has witnessed the relationship between her husband, Jeff and his Little Brother Kadarius grow over the past year. She’s seen Jeff take Kadarius to all kinds of activities around the city, from wrestling matches to Monster Jam. Kadarius is full of energy and loves activities where he doesn’t have to sit quietly (Jeff learned that the hard way after they tried to watch a movie together). They’ve been a great match from the start, both loving to laugh and have fun. When Jeff informed Kadarius that he and Andrea would be marrying this year, Kadarius asked Jeff, “We’re still going to be able to do stuff, just me and you, right?” Of course that answer was yes.
Kadarius stands with Jeff as Jeff and Andrea exchange vows
On the day of their wedding, an intimate setting which included only Jeff, Andrea, and Andrea’s two children, Jeff stood waiting for Andrea. His face lit up when he saw her for the first time. Before the ceremony began, Andrea told Jeff she had a surprise. She welcomed in Kadarius, who she had secretly arranged to stand by Jeff’s side as his Best Man. “I swear his face lit up brighter when he saw Kadarius than when he saw me,” Andrea joked. Jeff kept his promise that he made to Kadarius, and the next day the two of them went to Monster Jam together and had a blast. “Kadarius is always so grateful for everything Jeff does,” says Andrea. “Kadarius has a heart of gold.” Jeff is a support system not only to Kadarius, but to his family. He checks in with Kadarius’s mother to see how Kadarius is doing in school, and they include Kadarius’s sister in activities at times. It’s become more than just a Big and Little Brother; it’s become an extended family.
Jeff and Kadarius attended Monster Jam the next day
See what we've been up to so far in 2018!