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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Children & Youth

Mission: To provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring professionally supported one-to one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

Results: *98% graduate from high school. *95% drop drugs, alcohol and tobacco *53% feel better about themselves *47% get better report cards

Target demographics: Disadvantaged children ages 6-18

Direct beneficiaries per year: 450 children, ages 6-18

Geographic areas served: Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties

Programs: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay provides professional counselors who interview, screen and carefully match the children and adults in the program. We ask that volunteers are residents of the area, 18 years old or older, and able to see their Little Brother or Sister three times a month for a minimum of one year.

The counselors monitor the matches and are available for consultation at all times.

Activities are provided for those who wish to participate.

These relationships allow volunteers to give back to their community while positively impacting the lives of youth.

Community Stories

56 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became a Big Sister in College, 45 years ago, to a girl with Downs Syndrome. I signed up this time 1 1/2 years ago but did not start until three months ago due to dealing with my son's Mental Illness and suicide seven months ago. I was hoping for a 6-year-old Spanish speaking boy of a single parent household (like mine) who attends our neighborhood school. My "Little", Cesar is exactly what I had been hoping for, and more, and he has brought me immeasurable joy, especially now during my profound grief. We have a lot of fun together going to swimming lessons, playing with my dogs, feeding ducks, and going to the library so he can use the computer. We read together, play at the park, play soccer, make and write cards, visit horses and eat a lot of ice cream and his favorite, hot chocolate. We were very fortunate to receive a scholarship from Big Brothers and Sisters so I could obtain swimming lessons, group and private, for Cesar and we will soon be swimming in my pool with my dogs! We had a fantastic time on the Boat Cruise where Cesar was able to steer the boat for 20 minutes! The program provided Cesar with his first bike, and also one for his brother who has Autism. The program provides other activities-can't wait for the Family Picnic, that his Mother would not be able to afford. They also give a wide range of ideas of activities for us to do together that are free. In the training they give a lot of information on child development, what our role is and how to handle difficult situations. I am so grateful to our Counselor, Tania, who made a perfect match for us and keeps me constantly informed of events and sends pictures that have been taken of us. I cannot say enough about what Cesar has meant to me in my life, and our relationship continues to blossom. He has opportunities that he would otherwise not have and I get this new energetic, open, talkative, affectionate, smart child in my life. The only drawback is having to say I cannot take his brother with us because he is not in the program. It breaks our hearts to leave him behind. We desperately need more volunteers and we need full time staff to continue to do a great job. I had spent 35 years as a Clinical Social Worker with a very rewarding career and 35 years volunteering in different capacities. This has, by far, been at the top of my experiences and I hope others will consider becoming involved. It is extremely rewarding.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It has been a great experience working with BBBS North Bay. I was matched with my "Little" more than a year ago. There have been numerous events arranged by BBBS that were free of any charge. They included a Bay cruise, a picnic, an airplane ride, fishing, visiting a ranch, and bowling. They work to make both "Big" and "Little" experiences memorable and lasting. Definitely worth an inquiry if you want to spend time with a child in need.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In January 2015, I became a Big Brother through Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the North Bay. During the 80's and early 90's, I had been a Big Brother and had thoroughly enjoyed having a little brother for 9 years.

In this recent experience (2015), the application process was seamless yet very thorough. The staff at the agency was professional, competent and thorough. During the match process, I experienced the same level of professionalism and competence.

During the past eighteen months, my match with my little brother has been extremely rewarding. The professional staff contacts me regularly for feedback and offers assistance on any issue (although there have not been any issues). I feel completely supported by the agency and believe that they are extremely competent.

I enjoy every outing with my little brother, Erick. Whether we play soccer, basketball, baseball, football, tennis or enjoy a pizza, Jamba Juice or hot chocolate, we have a fabulous time. He is a delightful youngster.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the North Bay does an excellent job in every respect. My experience with the Agency, the match and the professionals at the Agency has been fantastic.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a Big Brother for approximately 5 years and have thoroughly enjoyed the program from all aspects. I was matched with my Lil Bro when he was 10, and we’ve remained in close contact ever since. I did not have children of my own, so this experience has taught me a tremendous amount and I appreciate all he has done for me, by just being himself.
The match process was clearly thought out, thorough, and well executed. Each and every one of the counselors I’ve worked with has been very supportive and responsive. There was one time that I needed their assistance, and without a doubt they handled it promptly and professionally, which reinforced the overall efficacy of the BBBS program in my mind.
I have also become a BBBS Ambassador in order to support the program however I can, and to provide assistance to the counselors in their recruiting efforts, especially for the male gender. Because I have a good working relationship and the utmost respect for the counselors in this program, it makes my additional volunteer work with them very easy.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is truly helping young persons who just need an adult presence other than a parent or in addition to a parent with an adult who also might need a youthful perspective or a little more fun in his life.

1 David357

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I got involved with BBBS of the NB back in 2009 when I was matched with my little. Its been an outstanding experience so far. The match process was detailed and it took more than 3 months for the staff to find the right "little." They really try to make a good match. The time with him flies by and we never run out of things to do. BBBS has many opportunities for activities and great outings. Most of the time we just play catch or go to the driving range. The support from the staff is consistent and always there. I'm thankful for my time volunteering at this organization.

1 Moxie S.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I started my relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay January of 2016. I was paired up with my little sister and was surprised at how well the organization did with matching us. We have so much in common with likes, dislikes and some personal experiences, which made establishing our relationship that much faster. We both genuinely enjoy our time together! I joined the program thinking I would be able to give back to my community and provide value as another person in my little's network to help guild and inspire this young girl. To my surprise, my little is contributing so much to my life and this experience if off to a wonderful start! Paula Hampton

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My doggie, Truman, just loves my Little, Stephanie Lopez! He loves her almost as much as I do. The first time I met Stephanie, I knew she was the perfect one for me! She was 7, now she is 11. We have had sooo many wonderful adventures and experiences together. We have ice skated at Snoopys, played games, painted and drawn, finished puzzles and gone to the symphony and parks, etc.
Every minute with her is a joy, and she still is the most perfect girl for me- and I believe I am perfect for her. She draws pictures thanking me for being her Big. I thank God for her!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been meeting with my Little Sister for 7 years as her Big Sister, starting in Aug. 2009. My Little was 10 years old then, and now she's 17. The first years of my Little's high school career were spent failing classes.It was very frustrating since I know how smart she is.

With help from many adults in my Little's life, including myself, she was admitted to a Legacy Program which is a self contained classroom, an alternative high school program. She's attending all her classes, getting "good grades" and has a good chance of graduating at the end of her senior year. Our BBBS counselor, Tania, has been a big help when there have been some situations with my Little or when speaking to her Spanish speaking mother is needed.

My Little has gone though some traumas and continues to deal with the aftermath of those, but she seems to know that I'm "there for her" and a trusted, consistent adult in her life. BBBS has allowed for opportunities to have fun with a young adult and to be as important to her life as she is to mine.

3 mgitiha

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became a 'big sister' in December last year. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to impact my little sister positively by sharing time together and exposing her to new experiences. For the few months we have been together, I have received great feedback from her mom and how happy she is that I am in her daughter's life. Sometimes you do not realize a small thing/gesture you do means so much to them. BBBS organization is very well ran with such committed counselors and staff to support the 'big' and 'little' relationship. It is really a labor of love from them. I have a ten year old daughter and she already told me she wants to be a big sister when she grows up. It is a win-win situation for me and all involved. I hope more and more people support this great organization.

1 Ayla Q.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined BBBS North Bay as a Big Sister in June 2015. The application process was thorough, but easy to understand and I felt like I had plentiful support. Interviews with BBBS staff made me feel comfortable with the process, and helped me feel like my concerns were heard and valued. I think the whole process took less than a month and I was matched with an 8-year old Little Brother as of July 1st.

It's early in our match and my Little Brother and I are still getting to know each other. Our BBBS staff does monthly check-ins to make sure everything is going well, and we get frequent communications on fun activities available for us to participate in. I will be surprising my little brother with a trip to Six Flags this week to celebrate our 1-year Matchiversary!

I wanted to be a Big Sister so I could help children; I wanted to be the person I needed when I was a kid. I feel like BBBS is helping me achieve that. And both my Little Brother and I are learning, growing, and having a lot of fun in the process!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been an active "big" for 13 years. Rigo--my first "little"--was homeless, 13 years old and failing in school when we met. We worked together for about 9 years and I got to participate in the life changes of a transformed young man. By the time he turned 21 he had already worked for Safeway for 5 years, he had a place to live and money in the bank. We did many projects in my wood shop over the years. One Christmas my grandchildren had asked for a toy kitchen. I had a photo from a catalogue and I asked him to figure out what we needed to do to make a copy of the stove. He was about 15. (The system had labeled him as border line retarded.) He studied that picture for about 15 minutes and then he said "This is nothing but a box." I thought that was a stroke of genius because it was a fancy box with lots of trim and doors. He recognized it right away. I argued with his counselors and they agreed to re-test him. A few weeks late they agreed with me. It immediately changed his life. He was transferred to a much better school and graduated at 18. We stayed in touch for another 3 years when he graduated himself.
I went back to the BBBS office and volunteered to do it again. My new "little" Alex is the polar opposite in may ways. He lives with his grandmother and brother. She provides a good home and a middle class life, but not much love. Alex handles adversity well--like fights with his older brother and a crabby grandmother. I like to think my place is a refuge for him away from all the normal pressures. He also has taken to the wood shop. He has learned to drive the tractor and has done a good job of tilling my small orchard. I try to provide him with experiences that will either support him or develop his confidence.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters changes lives. It's a win-win organization that supports our future children and allows mentors to make a positive impact on little brothers and sisters who grow up to be all they can be for the better. I have the great opportunity to be a support for my little who actually through our experiences shared together have made both of us realize that life is to have fun, help others, and give back to others. I have learned many things through the mentorship program. Life is too precious to not want to share it with others and along the way, you learn so much about another person and yourself. You allow yourself to have an open heart and your little looks up to you as a role model. I want to encourage you to participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters to experience life with a little that actually has a bigger heart and smile than you can imagine.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so grateful for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay, Inc. I was a volunteer with BBBS in another state, and when I first moved to the North Bay area, I was eager to find out whether BBBS existed in my new hometown. I was overjoyed to find out that it does exist here and that the program seeking additional mentors. I have been honored to have been matched to a wonderful young person and I am convinced that this program is essential for youth in any community where the program exists. The involvement of the volunteers, young people and their familes, as well as the support of the BBBS staff, makes a difference in the lives of everyone involved. BBBS of the North Bay covers a HUGE geographical area, and I am constantly in awe that the program staff remain accessible and deeply committed to the matches. It is my hope that this organization continues to thrive and serve young people throughout the area for many years to come.

1 Mary426

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm loving being a big sister. It's a great opportunity to support my community and have a lot of fun at the same time. BBBS has so many ways to make my role easier - affiliate organizations donate tickets and offer their time to enrich the life of my little! Love it

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My little sister and I have been dating for nine years. She is now 15. She says that when she gets to be 18 she wants to be a big sister. That is a testament to this program.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dear Big Brothers,
I want to write and affirm the importance of the Big Brother/Big Sisters programs from the perspective of a former Big Brother.
In 1972 I had the good fortune to apply to Big Brothers to be a mentor and was assigned a young man (age 12) who had just been released from a stint in the County Juvenile Correctional Center. My ‘little brother’ (LB) was a soft spoken young man who came from a large but fatherless family and who had run afoul with the law. LB didn’t say very much and it was hard to know what he was thinking or feeling, but that didn’t keep us from a variety of activities such as movies, dinners out, a couple of seasons crewing in sailboat regattas and of course, time spent on homework.
After a couple of years together, LB’s father returned to the family which unfortunately required the end of our formal relationship. Nevertheless, I learned LB went on to obtain his GED, participate in a Vision Quest experience in Death Valley (similar to one I too experienced), trained to become an electrician and eventually establish his own electrician’s business. Today LB is happily married with two beautiful daughters and a phenomenal son and he has established himself as a wonderful husband, father, professional and upstanding member in his community.
I think it’s fair to say that one never truly knows the impact one has on another’s life, but I believe our time together in the Big Brother program was positive for the two of us and hopefully, indirectly, positive for LB’s siblings too. What I do know for sure is that I, as a mentor, greatly benefited from our relationship; a relationship which helped me to be a better father when I had sons of my own. My participation in the Big Brother program has allowed me to feel as though I have added some positive energy to the collective good and too, to feel privileged to say that I know this fine man.
Stockton
Bolinas

Review from Guidestar

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with BBBS about a year ago. They do extensive interviews and training, and it took 7-8 months until they found the perfect match for me. They take matching Bigs and Littles very seriously - they want to ensure compatibility. Once a match was found, we met each other with the help of our counselor. She had an ice breaker game prepared to help us get more comfortable with each other. Over the last 5 months my little and i have spent almost every Sunday afternoon together, going to movies, doing art projects, or visiting the humane society. I can see how i am adding to this 12 year old's life - by giving her a chance to ask questions, have some fun, and get away from her three brothers! But most importantly, the Big Sister experience has had an enormous effect on me. I lost my husband two years ago, and having a Little in my life is extremely rewarding. It is so easy to make a big difference in a child's life.

Review from Guidestar

2

Donor

Rating: 5

The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization is full of committed people who care for the future of our children. Many lives have been changed for the better because of their involvement with BBBS. Not just the kids, which the impact is profound, but also the mentors.

Review from Guidestar

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BBBSNB is an amazing nonprofit because it's first consideration is for the children and mentors involved. I have been a big for over 5 years and can attest to the excellent attention given to the relationships of the matches. The counselors on staff communicate with the child, parent and mentor matched on a regular basis. They resolve any issues that develop throughout the match and consequently have been awarded at the national level for their longevity. They also provide monthly lists of activities along with ways the bigs can connect to support each other and their littles through this experience. As a big, I have learned compassion and empathy and my little knows there is someone who cares and values them. Thank you BBBSNB for providing an outstanding community service.

Review from Guidestar