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Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Third Annual Recognition Banquet

Sojourner’s Truth Staff

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Ohio agency has served the youth of this area for over 30 years – youth who live predominantly in low wealth communities (92 percent received public assistance).

On Sunday, January 27, BBBS of Northwestern Ohio held its third annual Award/Recognition Banquet at the Radisson Hotel in order to honor achievement in the area of academics, attendance, volunteerism and behavior.

As the name implies, Big Brothers Big Sisters matches youngsters with adults who provide mentoring services in a variety of programs – long-term and short term. The agency’s mission is to provide quality mentoring relationships between children and qualified adults. The youngsters the program serves are those whose families are on public assistance (92 percent), are in poverty (90 percent), are headed by single parents (71 percent) and are minority (62.6 percent).

The banquet was opened by Willie McKether, PhD, Recognition Banquet chairman and vice provost at the University of Toledo. Marie Bush, board chairman of BBBSNWO, presented the introductions and acknowledgements and, after dinner, Sammy J. Spann, associate vice president and dean of students at UT, offered the keynote address.

Then came the big moment – the awards presented by Bush and Victor Coleman, Jr., board member.

Thirty-one youngsters received honors for their academic achievements, six for attendance, two for volunteerism and nine for good behavior.

BBBSNWO’s executive director is Johnny Mickler, who has a wide range of experience in directing non-profit groups and has been in charge of the agency for the past three-plus years. He first arrived in Toledo in 1997 to start the area’s Urban League chapter after running the Madison, WI Urban League chapter for the previous five years. He left the Toledo area in 2007 for his native South Carolina and returned seven years later.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Board Chair Marie Bush, PhD, and Executive Director Johnny Mick

Over the past several years one of the agency’s key programs has been implemented. The “I Am Somebody, I Count” program works with youth of high-school age and provides leadership development training – preparing them for college and careers. The program helps them find summer jobs, brings in speakers on a regular basis and provides assistance in finding college scholarships. The program has recruited and enrolled 80 students, brought in 30 guest speakers to counsel the kids on various careers and topics such as bullying, teen pregnancy and school violence and taken them to job fairs around the area.

To date 30 of the kids have already graduated from high school, 40 received summer employment, 15 have already been awarded college scholarships.

The greatest outcome, says Mickler, “is changing behavior in a positive direction.”

The key component of the program, says Mickler, is the leadership development training which includes pre-employment readiness training focusing on setting goals, a code of conduct, etiquette, work readiness, correct behavior, anger management, credit counseling and community issues.

The leadership development component has a year-round aspect including academic enrichment, college tours, community service projects and career readiness.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program started in Toledo in 1937 and eventually became part of the national program.

Funding provided by grants, company and private donations, agencies such as United Way and special events such as this year’s banquet are critical to the continued success of BBBSNWO.

This year’s banquet sponsors included UPS, FirstEnergy, the University of Toledo, TPS, Fifth Third Bank, UAW Region 2B, Ohio State UAW CAP Council and Dr. Houston Johnson, MD



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/14/19 08:01:13 -0500.

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