Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern New Mexico to hold its annual fundraiser
By Christina Stock
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern New Mexico (BBBSSENM) is looking for teams and sponsors for its annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraiser. The highlight will be when all teams meet Oct. 30 at Center City Lanes.
The theme is “Bowl-O-Ween 2021” and costumes are encouraged. The event had to be cancelled last year and postponed this year, due to the pandemic.
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“Bowl for Kids’ Sake is especially important for us this year,” said Kim Dezendorf, office administrator. “The pandemic hit us hard, just like it did so many others. People being out of work and everything being shut down — it greatly hindered our fundraising capability. Everything we do is 100% supported by the donations we get. And so, our funding is down because of it. We’re managing; there’s been things we were able to do, but we really need this to be a success so we can continue the work we’re doing.”
Bill Wolf is chief executive officer of the organization. He said he was in contact with the bowling alley and, when it started up again, the organization’s board got to work organizing the event and reaching out to its supporters.
“Right now, we need teams to sign up, so we can have teams’ participation,” said Amanda Ware, program director for the nonprofit.
Companies and individuals participating form teams of five people. They can decide on their fundraising goals and invite friends to bowl or support them. Each team member is supposed to raise $100 minimum as a donation. There are also different levels, or “packages,” available to sponsor the event and the local program.
According to Wolf, there are local businesses as well as companies with offices that are located throughout southeastern New Mexico that participate. These companies use the event for team-building purposes.
“It’s a really good thing. They are helping a good cause, plus they are also doing something for their employees. We love the businesses. Come and be sponsors and be involved,” Dezendorf said.
Deadline for the teams to register is Oct. 20 through the group’s website. This is so every participating person receives an event T-shirt on time. This year’s art depicts a little witch bowling with a jack-o’-lantern head.
“The ‘bowlathon’ later is our thank you party for them,” Ware said. “It’s not for competitiveness or who wins what. It’s just to thank them for raising all the money for us.”
Wolf said that there will be pizza, door prizes and a silent auction. During registration, the teams can choose between three sessions on the day of the “Bowl-O-Ween.” The first is from noon to 2 p.m., the second from 2:30-4:30 p.m., and the last one from 5-7 p.m.
“All the prizes and the different things we give out are donated. Obviously, we want people to go out and raise money, but we take all kinds of donations for prizes,” Dezendorf said.
Since opening in 2000, the local Big Brothers and Big Sisters has been matching at-risk children (Littles), ages 5-17, with adult volunteers (Bigs) in meaningful, mentoring relationships. Their mentoring program is offered free of charge to the families they serve in Chaves County.
“It takes about $1,500 to $1,600 to make a match – that’s recruiting, that’s screening, that’s background checks, training,” Ware said. “Of course, each participant in the match — the parent, the Little and the Big — are interviewed and placed together.
“Our program is unique, as in, once matches are made, they are contacted once a month, every month, by a degreed staff member of Big Brothers Big Sisters to make sure that matches are whole and they don’t need any other support or services,” Ware said.
During the pandemic the services of BBBSENM were extended. “Whenever our families are disadvantaged or have a need, like their light goes off or their water goes out, our specialists refer them to outside services,” Ware said.
“Cyndi (Grado) in Artesia has been very busy in the last couple of months, just making sure that the children had their water, had their light. They had two children on the waitlist who lived with their mom, who is vulnerable. So she stays home all by herself. There wasn’t any avenue for her to go out. So she (Grado) got them sponsors, so they could go swimming this summer. We try to provide those services to the families. If we can’t help you directly, we will try to find someone and reach out in our name to get them a donation or a service that they wouldn’t have access to,” Ware said.
Wolf said that, due to families facing the hardships of unemployment, being at home with children can cause bad situations and even abuse. The group’s match specialists took care to check on not only the children and the families in the program, but also those still waiting to be matched with a Big.
This extended to delivering care packages right from the start. In Artesia alone, Grado delivered 20 packs with hand sanitizers, toilet paper and masks that had sold out in many places. Later on, packages were delivered that contained food and activity projects.
The organization is also asking the community to help find Bigs for those children on the waiting list.
Wolf said that one of their programs in Dexter has been interrupted because schools were closed in 2020 and early 2021 due to the pandemic. High school students volunteered as Bigs and would meet at school with elementary school Littles. “On average, we have 40 Littles out of Dexter,” Wolf said. This is the only program that involves children as Bigs.
“For a community-based volunteer, that person needs to be over 18,” Ware said. “They have to be willing to do an interview. And that interview is extensive, about three hours long. They have to be able to pass a CYFD (Children, Youth and Families Department) background check, which is a little bit more involved.”
A Big meets with their matched Little at least once a month. During the pandemic and related social distancing requirements, most contact occurred by phone or computer. Activities for the Big/Little match can be anything, depending on the interest. Wolf gave as examples a visit to the movies or a walk in the park.
This may not sound like a lot, but it just might change that child’s view of the world. According to independent studies done for the organization, children that have a Big in their life are twice as likely as their peers to avoid involvement in drugs. They also perform better in school and get along better at home and in the community.
According to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern New Mexico, more than 3,000 children in Chaves County need help.
For more information, call 575-627-2227 or visit bbbssenm.org.