We want to give a BIG thanks to Comcast and Nerium, our August Partners of the Month!

Comcast is a longtime supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters both financially and by providing mentors for a site-based program in Southfield. Now in the seventh year, the 20+ group of volunteers is already preparing for the new school year and new mentors are currently being interviewed. Thank you Comcast!

We also want to thank Nerium for hosting their first Bowl for Kids' Sake this year. Nerium has been a national partners of Big Brothers Big Sisters for some time but this year local members came together to raise an incredible $20,854.00 for our Metro Detroit agency. We are grateful for this budding partnership and want to give a special thanks to Big Brother Steve Engelman and his wife Rosa for their hard work planning the event.

About Comcast Cable:
Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. Comcast has invested in technology to build an advanced network that delivers among the fastest broadband speeds, and brings customers personalized video, communications and home management offerings. Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq:CMCSA) is a global media and technology company. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

About Nerium:
Based in Addison, TX, Nerium International is a global relationship marketing company with Age-Defying products created in cutting-edge research and science. Founded in 2011, Nerium has shattered industry records for sales while developing a strong customer base in North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific markets. This unprecedented success has allowed Nerium to generate $1 billion in cumulative sales after just four years. Nerium was recognized for its historic growth by ranking No.1 on the 2015 Inc. 500 List of fastest-growing private U.S. companies in consumer products and services and No. 12 in overall, as well as No. 38 on the 2016 Direct Selling News' Global 100 List. Led by an executive leadership team with vast domestic and international experience, Nerium is committed to distributing an excellent product line based in real science and providing its Independent Brand Partners with a life-changing and outstanding business opportunity through relationship marketing. For more information, please visit: http://www.nerium.com       

Although the sound of end of school year bells may still be ringing in our ears, the first day of school is just around the corner for many Metro Detroit students. BBBSMD is now accepting donations of new back to school supplies for children of all ages. Backpacks, Wide/College Rule Spirals, Pocket Folders, Wide/College Rule Paper, Crayons, Colored Pencils, Erasers, and Pencil Pouches are among the most needed supplies. 

Donations can be sent to or dropped off at our office Monday –Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Financial donations can be made online or by check, please write Back to School Supplies in the memo space. 
Zach is a 14 year old young man from Detroit who has been waiting for a Big Brother to mentor him! He loves to play on his tablet, go to sporting events and learn about different languages and religions. He hopes a Big Brother can help him in his schoolwork, take him to explore Detroit and just be someone he can hang out with. Zach and his mom are really excited for him to be matched with someone that can be a positive influence in his life. 

Would you like to be a Big Brother to Zach? Please contact Jasmine Greene at jasmine.greene@bbbsdetroit.org or (313)309-9222.
Desirae and Jayne have just celebrated their first year anniversary as a match. 

Jayne was a Big years ago but had taken some time often after her last match graduated. Her husband was matched with Desirae’s brother in 2014. Once he found out his Little had a younger sister who needed a match, they contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters and asked if Jayne could be reinstated as a Big and matched with Casey’s sister. After the interviews and checks it was determined to be a match. 

Desirae is really shy and Jayne has been patient and willing to go slow and steady to earn her trust. They cook together and sometimes go to the dollar store to do some “silly shopping” and just find goofy dollar store items. Occasionally all four of them will go out together or play board games. Recently Jayne and Desirae went to the Tigers game and had a great time.

I love writing this blog! It gives me a chance to reflect on how we can best help the vulnerable youth in our community. I hope to create messages that cause you to find passion in your heart that will move you to action, whether as a charitable donor of Big Brothers Big Sisters or a caring mentor. The Big Brothers Big Sisters mission culminates with the idea of changing the lives of children for the better, forever. And, really, it's more than just an idea, it’s our promise.  When a parent, grandparent, school or even a juvenile judge brings a youth to Big Brothers Big Sisters, they do so knowing - not hoping, that we will help by matching them with a passionate, trained and professionally supported mentor with the vision of making a difference.

And guess what? Our mentors are simply the best volunteers in the world. With integrity and passion they promise to be matched for one year, while spending 4 hours a month with a youth. So many of those mentors tell us how fast that one year passes and how enriched their own lives have become through volunteering. Ok, sure at the beginning of the relationship there are moments of “What do I say or what are we going to do?” And then they get an email from Big Brothers Big Sisters with free tickets to a Tigers game - yes, something to do! Or that timely phone call from our match support staff that says, “How’s it going?” And the mentor says, “I’m so glad you called, my Little is scared about visiting his dad in prison, what do I say?” Wouldn’t it be great if all relationships offered that kind of support without having to search for the latest episode of Dr. Phil?

I love that our mentors are willing to step outside of their comfort zone to help someone in need.  Sure, when we match mentors with youth, we do our best to find common interests that will help with compatibility, like enjoying sports, shopping, video games, going to the park, etc, but there will be differences.  And that’s ok.  In fact, that is what’s exciting about mentoring.  Sometimes in order to grow, both youth and adult will step out of their comfort zone and challenge preconceived notions about people who might be different from themselves based on where they live, how they grew up, the color of their skin,their religion, or their life’s challenges.  But, it’s a step they are each willing to take individually at first and then together as their relationship evolves and strengthens...it’s an amazing, organic life changing experience.

If you are on the fence about mentoring read the article below about stepping out of your comfort zone, or give me a call directly at 313-309-9252 so I can put you in touch with other mentors who are volunteering. Just know that when you are a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters you are a part of something bigger than yourself!

“6 Reasons to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone”...http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/26/stepping-outside-your-comfort-zone_n_5872638.html

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, a non-profit mentoring organization serving Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, named eight new board members to three year terms on its board of directors:

The new members are Keith Mobley, Director of Community Relations for AAA MichiganHope Landgraff, Wealth Adviser at Wells Fargo Private BankDr. Marlene L. Garland Hill, CEO for Marlene L. Garland Hill Agency, IncChris VanTol, President,VanTol & Vitelli Insurance GroupDavid McClelland, Executive Vice President of Marketing & Sales at Ford Motor Credit CompanyLois Bingham, Esq, Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary & Compliance Officer for Yazaki North America, Inc; Rob Milligan, Executive Director of Risk Management for AdientTanisha A. Sanders, Senior Director of Government Relations at Kellogg Corporation.

See all members of the Board of Directors here
Big Brothers Big Sisters recently celebrated our remarkably dedicated community partners who volunteer as mentors with our school youth throughout the school year. The recognition luncheon, "Little Moments, Big Magic", was held on June 2nd with over 500 youth, mentors and school officials in attendance. The BBBS school based programs provides an opportunity for a mentors to spend lunch-time with the youth once or twice a month. 

The bond they develop is life changing for both the youth and mentor. According Anthony Bradley, a mentor and vice president of Quality and Process Management for Ford Credit, "When we partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters on the mentoring project at the Detroit Leadership Academy, I thought about my upbringing and what has sustained me. I also thought about the missed opportunities for some of my friends from the neighborhood. They might have fared differently with the right leadership and role models", says Anthony. "It’s pretty exciting to know that I have the opportunity to make a positive difference in a student’s life. It could even be life changing - for both of us.” 

Corporate mentors recognized during the luncheon, included Ford Credit, Greektown Casino, General Motors, Comcast, AAA Michigan, Cambridge Group, Chrysler, Blue Care Network, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Jobs for American Graduates, U.S. Military personnel, Mayor Duggan's Office, and Carhartt. Molina Health Care served as an inaugural sponsor for the event. Shawn Blanchard, mentor, author and motivational speaker, provided a stirring message to the youth and adults about changing obstacles into opportunities. To become a corporate partner for our school based programs, contact clare.carr@bbbsdetroit.org

We are pleased to name Molina Healthcare as our June Partner of the Month for their support of this exciting event and we look forward to our continued relationship.

About Molina Healthcare

Molina Healthcare, Inc., a FORTUNE 500 company, provides managed health care services under the Medicaid and Medicare programs and through the state insurance marketplaces. Through our locally operated health plans in 11 states across the nation and in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Molina currently serves approximately 4.2 million members. Dr. C. David
Molina founded our company in 1980 as a provider organization serving low-income families in Southern California. Today, we continue his mission of providing high quality and cost-effective health care to those who need it most. For more information about Molina Healthcare, please visit our website at molinahealthcare.com.

Many Bigs, Littles and school partners attended the lunch and each received a BBBS lunchbox.
Two Littles talk about their experiences as mentees in our program.
Big Brother Earl and Little Brother Semaj
Speaker Shawn Blanchard, author of the book "How 'Bout that for a Crack Baby"
Scholarship recipient Jasmine Jordan, a high school aged mentor in the Big Leaders program with David Miles. David and Christine Miles have been providing this annual scholarship opportunity to BBBS affiliated youth for years.
Scholarship recipient Maurice Steward, a BBBS Little Brother and David Miles.
I recently attended a funeral of a 24 year old talented, fun-loving young man from Detroit.  The grief in the packed funeral home was heavy and thick. He was killed by his girlfriend. She stabbed him because he wanted to break up with her. Wow. I just could not wrap my arms around that idea.  Everyone attached to the situation was trying to understand what they could have done to help. They felt like they were to blame for some reason. The owner of the foster care transitional home where she lived spoke at the funeral, asking for peace from the family. He was apologizing as if somehow her actions were his fault. It wasn’t his fault.  I learned more about the young woman that killed him. She lived in and out of foster care homes for most of her life and now she was in a transitional home for youth aging out of the “system”. Everyone was always leaving her. Taking another person’s life and forever changing the trajectory of your own tells me she was desperate, scared and hopeless.

It saddens me to think that our youth are living in such desperation, seemingly unaware of options for achieving success in life.   I hear people say it “takes a village” to raise a child.  But who is in the village? A friend of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Shawn Blanchard, a graduate of U of M, mayoral appointee and motivational speaker has written a book called “How ‘Bout That for a Crack Baby”.  In talking with Shawn he openly shares that his childhood village consisted of his addicted mother who taught him to steal at a young age and brothers who ended up in prison or dead. But also in Shawn’s village were a few adult mentors who stepped in to help him see another pathway. And it wasn’t always easy for those mentors. Youth, who grow up in the struggle, find comfort in the chaotic certainty of it.  An overwhelming number of the nearly 1000 youth we serve every year live with this certainty.

While mentorship through Big Brothers Big Sisters is proven to help youth gain a better perspective on life, many youth will push back.   Youth, especially those from traumatic backgrounds, like some in foster care may not have the same built in ability, even as emerging adults,  to deal with insecurity or uncertainty. But I say to those who are mentoring, thank you and keep pushing forward.  Give them words of encouragement, offer a helping hand (not a handout), celebrate small accomplishments (like not making you have to wait 10 minutes when you come pick them up), give them room to explore this new self that you are helping to reveal,  and help them develop a vision of a healthy future.  

Desperate actions that cause our youth to end up dead or in prison are not ok.

Our youth can do better when are guided to see a concrete way to something better.  It’s up to us in the village to shine a light so that all youth, regardless of their adversity and misfortune can see the pathway to a successful life.  Become a mentor visit www.bbbsdetroit.org.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit is the new recipient of a grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that will specifically provide mentors for foster care youth. Under this grant we will be serving youth in Wayne County, 14-21 who have aged out or who are currently in the foster care system.  Our mentors will be reimbursed for the activity expenses for outings with their little. This is unique to this grant. Each mentor will be trained to work with these youth prior to being matched to ensure success. As always, we have staff committed to help our mentors every step of the way. If you're interested in being a Big Sister or Big Brother to a youth, please give us a call at 313-309-0500!
We would like to recognize Blue Cross Blue Shield as the May Partner of the Month!

This year Blue Cross Blue Shield made history again by raising a whopping $114,092 from Bowl for Kids' Sake; the largest amount raised by any fundraiser! We are so thankful for the more than 500 people who participated and showed their support for Big Brothers Big Sisters. A special recognition goes out to our long time board member Michele Samuels who was instrumental in the success of the event.

About Blue Cross Blue Shield

Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Care Network of Michigan is committed to being their members’ trusted partner by providing affordable, innovative products that improve their care and health. Their Unique vision and mission means they can bring the best of both worlds to their member and their communities by providing the following:

   Plans for employers and individuals that meet today’s needs, budget and lifestyles
   The largest network of doctors and hospitals in the state
   Lower health care costs
   Higher quality health care
   Award-winning diversity practices
   Grants and programs that promote better health throughout Michigan