College Access at BBBS

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Hi!  My name is Mae Kindler and I am the College Access Coordinator at BBBS.  What does this mean?  Well, think of me as your BBBS go-to person for all things related to college.  Whether you are just getting started with the college process or you are diving into college applications this fall, BBBS offers something for everyone in high school to be engaged in college exploration!

If the college process sounds lengthy and overwhelming, I want to let you know that it is more than long hours of taking the ACT, writing essays, filling out numerous applications, asking for letters of recommendation, and sitting around waiting for answers.  Sure, it’s going to be a lot of work, but is it worth it?  Of course!

You have to keep in mind that there are so many fun aspects about the college process.  Thinking about college means getting to weigh your likes and dislikes and examining your goals.  Through BBBS’ College Club, you will be exposed to an assortment of college experiences that will give you an opportunity to make decisions.  Do I want to go to school close to home?  What is the right class size for me?  Are there resources on campus to help me if I don’t understand my coursework?  Can I really stand another Minnesota winter?

The goal of College Club is really centered on providing answers to those exact questions.  We want to make sure you have a chance to set foot on campuses to take tours, speak with current college students, sit-in on classes, try the food, and even stay overnight in a residence hall.  We also look for sporting events, concerts, and plays that we can attend on campus to give you an idea of what student life can look like outside of the classroom.

Looking back on the last two years, College Club has visited more than 15 campuses in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin!  We even had a chance to attend a University of Minnesota Gophers basketball game with matches and had a great panel discussion about the importance and enjoyment of participating in extracurricular activities during college.

Whatever the activity is, we design our programming to be exciting and educational.  I hope that I can encourage you to think of BBBS as a great resource for college, no matter where you are in your journey.

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Healthy Habits Begin Here!

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Childhood Obesity is a major problem in the United States – just ask Michelle Obama.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities has set out a mission to combat this problem starting right here at home with the youth we serve.  Along with the University of Minnesota Twin Cities School of Nursing, BBBS is set to launch the new Healthy Habits Program. This program, funded by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, was created to educate local youth on eating healthy and staying active.

There are countless resources in the Twin Cities dedicated to wellness, but many children remain stuck at home due to lack of transportation or the supervision to attend those activities. This is where the Healthy Habits comes in. The program offers both Bigs and Littles a variety of fun, healthy activities where everybody can participate and have a good time, while also ensuring that Littles always have a ride and a chaperone. Along with exercise-based activities, Healthy Habits focuses on making educated food choices. Sessions will be offered to teach matches how to find fresh produce around their community and cook with it at home. To keep active, Healthy Habits will provide sessions at the YMCA to help Littles utilize the programs available in their community. Both types of activities will encourage healthy, long-lasting attitudes toward food and exercise.

This program will kick off October 2016 with events twice a month through October 2017. Matches will be given a “Health Pass” to encourage repeat attendance at Healthy Habits events. When matches attend at least 7 Healthy Habits activities, as noted in their “Health Pass”, they will receive a prize for their efforts. As a part of the Healthy Habits Program, researchers from the UMN School of Nursing will also attend the events and collect valuable data. Their hope is to figure out ways that mentors can better facilitate healthy habits in the lives of their mentees.

We’re looking forward to a very fit and active 2016-2017!

Half-century Mentorship

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It was in 1963 that Dick Rademacher first heard about the Big Brothers program in Minnesota. Dick was working in the food brokerage business, focusing primarily on sugar. One of his colleagues, Fred, was a Big Brother, and one day Fred brought his Little Brother to work. Dick spent some time with the match and was inspired by their friendship. He decided shortly after this experience to sign up and become a mentor himself. Dick already led a busy life with his wife Nancy and their baby daughter Janie, and two more children were soon to arrive, but Dick wanted to give back and offer a child in the community opportunities he wouldn’t otherwise have. And so, Dick was matched with Ron, an 11 year old boy living in the same community, being raised by a single mother. Little did the two know that this first meeting 53 years ago would evolve into a lifelong friendship.

Dick’s family’s cabin on Lake Minnetonka is where many special memories reside for both Ron and Dick. The two would spend lazy afternoons together fishing and hiking, camping and swimming. When Ron played in a peewee baseball league, Dick always made time in his schedule to attend games and help Ron practice his catching skills. The two also had a tradition of attending the Big Brothers Banquet in Minneapolis, and Ron still remembers getting to meet Vikings greats Carl Eller and Alan Page. Ron referred to Dick as a “…great guy to talk to when you’re a kid. He’d always try and head you down the right path.”

After Ron graduated high school, they continued to stay in touch. Ron got married (with Dick in attendance), had two beautiful daughters (Dick and his wife Nancy attended both girls’ baptisms), and bought their first home in Mound, near Dick’s home. The two continued to see one another on a regular basis and would go on boat rides between each other’s houses. Later on, Ron and his family picked up and moved to Texas, for a job in the food business, but the two always kept in touch with Christmas cards and the occasional phone call to check in on one another.

It was just recently that the two reconnected in person under unfortunate circumstances. Ron’s sister passed on and Dick had read about it while scrolling through Facebook one day. Compelled to see Ron again, Dick attended the funeral and that very weekend, Dick and Nancy had Ron and his family up for dinner. It was like no time had passed at all and they conversed just like old friends. That weekend, Ron made it clear to Dick and his family that, “He [Dick] made the biggest difference in my life.”

We here at BBBS want to congratulate Dick for his 53+ years of unwavering support and dedication to his Little Brother Ron. Thank you, Dick, for making such a BIG difference.

Looking to become a mentor? Join us for one of our upcoming Info Sessions at Big Brothers Big Sisters Offices. Click here for a schedule.