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Wednesday, November 29, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesChamber Hears Big Ideas for Helping Kids on St. Croix

Chamber Hears Big Ideas for Helping Kids on St. Croix

Brian Blaschka, with Josette Rider (background), discusses the benefits of Big Brother and Big Sisters.Duane Bobeck thinks it’s time to start up a Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization on St. Croix, and he promoted the notion Friday at the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting at the Palms at Pelican Cove.

Around 15 people heard about volunteering and becoming a “Big” to a “Little” in Big Brothers and Big Sisters (BBBS).

Local Brian Blaschka, a former “Little” now in the construction business, told the group that he learned work ethics and responsibility from his Big Brother, a man who gave him his first paycheck for a job hammering nails. As a local soccer coach, he said he sees firsthand what the kids here need in their lives. He said all it takes is going and getting a child and taking them somewhere, mentoring them and being a friend.

Bobeck, a chamber member involved in the Bigs for more than 20 years in the states, said he saw the relevance of BBBS on St. Croix and brought the idea to chamber. He said he is an idea man not an organizer, so he brought in Josette Rider, executive director of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Chapters of Indiana. Rider has been recognized for building one of the most successful Big Brother and Big Sister Organizations in the US.

“Children are bottles just waiting to be filled,” Rider said. “This is not about money, we need volunteers and mentors.”

She said, after meetings with interested parties and finding out the communities’ needs, she will put together a report and make recommendations to the national organization.

Peter Bobeck, Duane’s son, a Big himself at 17, took email addresses of those interested in helping with the startup, and said there were 10 recruited at the meeting and more interested in helping. The goal is to have 50 volunteers including a board of directors in 18 months.

Genevieve Whitaker, an attorney, said it sounds like a great way to mix and match different levels of society, races, and ages of people . She said she hopes to inspire other young professionals to volunteer with Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

The process involves screenings and interviews of littles and bigs and the placement is made according to likes, interests and similarities. Bigs are required to spend one to two hours a week with Littles. In the appeal, Rider said one is never too old and there is always something people can do with youngsters.

For more about the local startup email peterbobeck@gmail.com.

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