By Carlie Boswell, Enrollment and Match Coordinator
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Board of Directors are the ambassadors for our agency. They help fundraise, govern, and engage people in our mission. They were awarded the 2018 Mid-Large Agency Board of the Year from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Shirley Spieker, current board member and former board President, has been a big part of the board’s success.
A person on our leadership team recently told me, “If you believe in the mission, there is a place for you.” Shirley exemplifies this. Shirley’s time on our Board of Directors is coming to a close and she has been able to find a place with so many different areas of our program.
When did you first hear about Big Brothers Big Sisters?
In the early 1990’s, I first learned about BBBS from a co-worker who was fundraising for a Bowl for Kids’ Sake team at his wife’s employer. I made a donation and thought the idea of 1:1 mentoring with youth was interesting so I did some research.
Why did you want to become a Big Sister?
I became a Big Sister for a couple of reasons. First I really enjoy spending time with children. Second I was looking for a way to give back to the community and I liked the BBBS model where you could have direct impact on a child and their family.
Who was a mentor in your life? How did they affect you?
I have had several mentors in my life. Specifically there was a person I worked with early in my career who took me under their wing and was that sounding board for me when I was considering different career steps or looking at my personal development. This person was a good listener and cheerleader but also really challenged me to think about things differently and consider experiences that I might not have otherwise. This person also helped me pick myself back up when I had a setback and gave me confidence to try something new again.
You are a fundraising rock star! What advice would you give to people wanting to get their coworkers or friends involved with fundraising for BBBS?
Fundraising is really an outcome of establishing relationships and telling a compelling story. I don’t start out by asking for a donation. Rather I intentionally establish relationships and get to know people with whom I share my passion about making an impact in our community. I then tell them about my experience with BBBS as well as share stories from others in the program. When I actually make an ask I also make sure to explain how the fundraising is used. I follow up with a thank you and keep contacts updated on the impact BBBS is having.
What has been your favorite experience with Big Brothers Big Sisters?
I have had a lot of great experiences with BBBS but my favorite was being a Big Sister and spending time with my Little Sister. We were matched for about four years. We lost touch after that but connected again a few years ago on social media. We met up in person and it was like we never missed a beat! She lives in another state now but we exchange messages via social media and I will always feel a special connection with her. I am proud of the strong woman I can see she has become.
What have you learned from your time on the BBBSM Board?
I have had the pleasure of working with some outstanding professionals from across the city as well as the very talented BBBSM staff while serving on the BBBSM board of directors. This experience has helped me appreciate the uniqueness of the BBBS model and just how much time and energy is invested in keeping those children served by the program safe and supporting the matches so that both Big and Little have positive outcomes. I have learned the importance of diversity of funding sources for a non-profit along with what it means to have strong fiduciary controls and governance. I have also become more aware of the challenges youth in our community and across the country face and it has made me even more passionate about the BBBS mission and defending the potential of our young people.
What would you like to see in the future for BBBSM?
I would like to see BBBSM continue to grow and expand its impact here in our community. This means continuing to increase the number of volunteer Bigs as well as the financial resources to support the growth in a quality manner. I would also like to see BBBSM recognized more often as a key partner in the ongoing effort to making this community a great place for families and employers.
Thank you to Shirley for everything she does for Big Brothers Big Sisters. We are so appreciative of her continued support of our agency.