Thanks to generous support from the La Crosse Community Foundation, in 2015 Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region has launched the REACH initiative. The purpose of the REACH initiative is to partner with businesses and other programs within our community to offer intentional, structured, group activities to our one-to-one matches. REACH activities focus on developmental goals in five focus areas:
- Education and Careers
- Arts and Culture
- Civic Engagement
- Health and Wellness
A Big and his or her Little typically plan their own activities based on their common interests. Providing structured activities makes volunteering easier for our Bigs and makes it easier to recruit potential Bigs who are interested in volunteering, but are deterred by planning activities each week. These structured activities improve the quality of the match and strengthen the bond between Big and Little. Providing these intentional activities will also broaden our matches’ knowledge of the community and offerings available to them throughout the 7 Rivers Region. Select REACH activities will be structured to provide Bigs with hands on training in areas such as Child Safety and High Risk Behaviors to increase their effectiveness as mentors. By implementing REACH we plan to increase volunteer enrollment, introduce new opportunities into our match relationships, enhance the mentoring experience for Bigs, increase collaboration with other programs, and increase match length resulting in more positive outcomes for children.
The REACH events have definitely helped strengthen my relationship with my Little. The events provide structured and educational entertainment that have given my Little and I things to talk about and common experiences to bond over. Recently, we participated in an event at Mathy Construction. While it struck a chord with my Little. I have never seen him so engaged and talkative! Thank you to all who were involved with the event – my Little left with a smile on his face and arms full of things that will help him remember how much fun he had at Mathy Construction!
Some 2015 REACH Activities in Winona and La Crosse:
In November 2015, our matches had two exciting activities! Students from studying abroad at UW-L an Viterbo University came in to tell about their lives in their native country as part of Global Initiatives Week. Later in the month, matches went to the National Weather Service Station to learn about the science and technology involved in monitoring atmospheric and climatic conditions in our area and throughout the country
Wyatt Bikes in La Crosse invited us in to see how UW-L Graduate Wyatt Hrudka built a mini bike empire in La Crosse. Matches took a tour of the factory, learned about starting their own business and most importantly – the value of doing what inspires you.
Outdoor Adventures hosted an interactive experience at Camp Wenonah taking our matches on a hike and teaching them survival skills such as how to build a fire.
Matches learned about rocks in the testing lab at Mathy Construction in August 2015. The lucky attendees were able to push buttons and pull levers as they learned the science behind the asphalt that we drive and walk on each and every day!
In August 2015, Mid-West Family Broadcasting invited our matches in to see behind the scenes of a radio station and learn about the different career opportunities.
The La Crosse Loggers had BBBS matches “run the field” for a game in July 2015. Ten lucky matches took tickets at the game, ran the on-field promotions, spoke on the radio, ushered people to their seats, sold programs and made announcements at the stadium.
WXOW hosted our matches in June 2015. On the tour of WXOW, our matches were able to meet the people who bring you the news and weather, but were also given exclusive behind the scenes access to the control room and to the hardworking individuals that bring us our favorite ABC programming.
Matched enjoyed a fun activity at Ropes Course at Camp Wenonah in May 2015. The activity was designed to promote cooperation, communication, and leadership. Matches began with some physical and mental initiatives before working with their team on the high course (20 feet high) elements where matches developed self-confidence with the support of their group.
The Bremer Bank is a unique attribute to our community because its proceeds go to the Otto Bremer Foundation, which helps fund many projects in the La Crosse community including Big Brothers Big Sisters! Not only did matches get a tour of Bremer Bank, but they also learned more about the Otto Bremer Foundation, how the bank works when it comes to lending and saving and learned some financial responsibility tips. The matches enjoyed pizza and drinks that provided after the tour.
Matches visited the Hillside Animal Hospital and learned about what it takes to care for our furry friends! They were able to experience a behind the scenes tour of Hillside Animal Hospital and got a chance to meet some of the adorable animals currently receiving veterinary care!