Thinking big: Big Brothers Big Sisters seeks help from community
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — As Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Wood County nears its 50th year of developing relationships, it is rebuilding and seeking to make changes that would make it bigger and better than ever.
“We are looking to expand down into Wisconsin Rapids, and we also have Clark County, which we haven’t even touched,” said BBBS-Wood County Executive Director Heidi Goblirsch. “When I came in we implemented a new case management database. We redid all of our bylaws. We have redone all of our policies and procedures. We are completely rebuilding from scratch.”
Lack of funding and staff have made it difficult to reach out to the community and have left the program to stagnate in its current home city.
“The majority of our matches are local, right here in the Marshfield School District,” explained Goblirsch. “We are a United Way partner, so we are mostly funded by them right now.”
As it nears its 50 year anniversary, the organization is implementing a new campaign that could breathe some life into the program and create an avenue to expand and grow.
“They are still developing it, but we have a ’50 for 50’ challenge for our board. We are looking for them to contact 10 people each and ask them, ‘Can you donate $50?’ Once we meet that, we are looking for someone to possibly match,” added Goblirsch.
In addition, BBBS is seeking adults to help meet its “Big” need to address the list of children that wait for the companionship of a willing adult. “Bigs” are adult mentors that assist in guiding “Littles,” young children who need help in realizing their full potential.
“We have a waitlist of 16 children, and only two of them are females,” said Goblirsch. “I read these back stories. It just breaks my heart.”
Bigs must go through an application process, which involves a background check, reference check, insurance check, and a home inspection.
“After everyone has gone through their interview and background check and things like that, I will create a match,” explained Goblirsch. “We look at everyone’s interest, schedules, and whatever I think would match well.
“They match at our office, so Big, Little, and parents all come together.”
Matches are not limited to the Marshfield area and are open to adults and children from all over Wood County as well as Clark County. Though interest is growing in the program, Goblirsch would like to see the needs of volunteerism and funding as well as program expansion addressed.
“We are starting to get a little bit more of a presence in Wisconsin Rapids by people just talking about it,” said Goblirsch. “But the Marshfield area has been our main focus.”
For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood County, contact Heidi Goblirsch at 715-387-6198 or firstname.lastname@example.org.