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Battle Creek organizations think ‘out of the box’

New Bigs in Business program set

One of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ fastest growing programs is Bigs in Business where students are transported to a business near their school for mentoring. The agency strives to begin each new program with at least eight Bigs, however, that can be a challenging number for some smaller organizations to meet. Employees at three Battle Creek organizations aren’t letting that stop them from becoming Bigs.

Staff from the Battle Creek Community Foundation, the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, and United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region are joining together to form Bigs on the Riverwalk. Each of these downtown Battle Creek organizations would have difficulty providing enough mentors for a traditional Bigs in Business program but by banding together, at least 10 children will have new mentors this fall.

“We’re thrilled with this out-of-the-box thinking,” says Amy Kuchta, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ chief executive officer. “Most importantly, at least 10 kids from our waiting list will now have mentors.”

Bigs on the Riverwalk, like all Bigs in Business programs, will run during the school year and Bigs will meet with their Littles twice a month at their offices. Activities will vary; Bigs will sometimes meet one-to-one with their Littles and play games or just talk while at other times all matches will meet for a group activity.

Mentors with the three organizations are looking forward to getting involved. “At United Way, we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to realize their full potential and it takes all of us working together to do that,” says Chris Sargent, executive vice president and COO of the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.

Kara Beer, president of the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, is looking forward to making a difference to a local child. “Extensive community feedback has shown that the one-to-one mentoring offered through Big Brothers Big Sisters is a need in all economic levels of our community,” she says. “We’re looking forward to making a greater impact with the Bigs in Business program.”

Annette Chapman, vice president of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, says she is excited about participating in this new initiative. “We feel one of the best investments our community can make is in our youth and our staff is looking forward to doing what they can to make a difference in the life of a child,” Chapman says.