Big Brothers Big Sisters Lincoln remains dedicated to providing strong, enduring, professionally supported match relationships to help Lincoln's youth and children develop skills to solve problems, make positive choices, and thrive through mentorship. Our one-to-one community-based mentoring approach brings matches together to interact with one another, as well as others out in the community. At this time, out of an abundance of caution, we are committed to joining our community in efforts to lessen the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic by taking precautionary steps to protect the health of the community, guests, youth, and volunteers we work with.
We recognize the people most likely to be affected are those who hold marginalized identities and those who live in multigenerational homes; many of the constituents in our program fall into those demographics. During this public health crisis, it is our responsibility to put the safety and health of our community at the forefront of our work.
We have implemented the following changes to our programming and operations, informed by latest recommendations by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the City of Lincoln. We will continue to share updates on our website and social media as the situation changes:
- The Big Brothers Big Sisters Lincoln office building is closed through at least March 31st and all match activities are postponed.
- We have suspended all match outings until further notice. Mentoring matches are encouraged to continue speaking on the phone or through other forms of technology.
- All staff is working remotely. New volunteer Bigs will be screened, trained and interviewed online. Our Program Specialists will continue to support active matches as usual through phone communication.
BBBS Lincoln is committed to serving our community despite the significant roadblocks that social distancing presents.
Though our office is closed, WE ARE OPEN. Please do not hesitate to reach out to BBBS Lincoln staff, especially your Program Specialist, if you have questions or need guidance.
We strongly encourage you to stay remotely connected to your Little. Call on a weekly basis just to say hello. There will be a time when this crisis passes, and you can pick back up on in-person meetings. Bigs, it will be a huge reassurance to your Little just to hear your voice and get an email or a text from you on a consistent basis. Parents, encourage your children to reach out to their mentors!
We are still looking for new volunteer mentors. With a waitlist of over 100+, recruiting new mentors is as important as ever. New volunteer mentors will be screened, trained, and interviewed online. Match Introduction Meetings will resume as soon as it is deemed appropriate. With the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, many schools, offices, large events and the like have been impacted. Big Brothers Big Sisters Lincoln is no exception. Two of our key annual fundraising events, Styles & Smiles and the Defending Potential recognition luncheon, are held in the spring/summer and bring in much of our agency’s revenue for the year. Even though plans for both scheduled events may change as COVID-19 related information continues to be updated day-to-day, you can expect new and exciting opportunities to help the agency continue its vital work for youth and their families within our community. The upcoming Styles & Smiles event is currently postponed and tentatively rescheduled for Sunday, May 17th. Please consider participating in our upcoming events and campaigns as we work through changes and share updates, and/or make a donation today.
We hope that you do everything you are able to help prevent further spread of the virus. This includes excellent hygiene, social distancing, and following other recommendations from the World Health Organization and CDC. Below are resources you may find helpful.
Thank you for your continued commitment to mentoring. Above all, we hope you and your loved ones stay safe and supported.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to any Big Brothers Big Sisters Lincoln staff person during this time.
WE ARE BIGGER TOGETHER! Let’s continue to support each other and our fellow community members as we navigate these uncertain times. We wish you all good health and look forward to seeing you soon.
Executive Director, and the BBBS Lincoln Team!
Dear Senators Fischer and Sasse, Representatives Bacon, Fortenberry and Smith,
Big Brothers Big Sisters Lincoln urges you to consider the needs of nonprofits in any upcoming COVID-19 stimulus legislation. Specifically, we ask the bill expressly allocate and include $60 billion for charitable nonprofits. We ask you to support Sen. James Lankford’s amendment to improve the above-the-line charitable deduction by raising the cap to $4,000 and allowing all taxpayers to immediately claim the deduction on 2019 taxes and afterwards.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Lincoln (BBBSL) creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. In this, we nurture children and strengthen community. BBBSL serves Lancaster County, home to nearly 7,000 children who are exposed to significant risk factors every day including poverty, violence and frequent school truancies, and are at greater risk of academic failure and behavioral health challenges. Not only has the pandemic paralyzed our matches’ ability to meet regularly and grow their relationship, it has significantly and negatively impacted our revenue and ability to run our program. We are doing our best to find innovative ways to accommodate this situation but some setbacks cannot be avoided.
To do our part in slowing the spread of the virus, we are facing major fundraising event cancellations and are expecting substantial revenue losses to our organization. While we continue to do our best, utilizing technology to facilitate ongoing recruitment and training for new volunteer mentors, social distancing and isolation has impeded our ability to make new Big/Little matches – especially impactful to our wait list of 100+ youth – and continue providing critical mentoring services to support youth in need in the city of Lincoln.
Our ability to support our youth and BBBSL mentoring relationships relies on revenue. We are bracing for a large gap between our anticipated and actual revenue. A stimulus package with meaningful assistance to nonprofits will help cushion the blow and speed our recovery.
The nonprofit sector is the 3rd largest employer in Nebraska, making up over 11% of all jobs. With significant cutbacks to government social welfare programs, we were already heavily relied upon to make up for the gap of services for our community’s most vulnerable. While the COVID-19 crisis has adversely affected all sectors of the economy, today, nonprofits have become the most vulnerable.
I urge you to include the policy solutions proposed by the nonprofit community in any COVID-19 relief and stimulus legislation.
Mario Racicot, Executive Director