What's New at Best Friends?
Youth Mentoring Agencies Merge Into One
BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS AND BEST FRIENDS OF NEENAH MENASHA ANNOUNCE MERGER INTO ONE YOUTH MENTORING AGENCY
Local nonprofits merge to empower more youth through life‐changing friendships
APPLETON, Wisconsin (August 20, 2019) — Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region (BBBS) and Best Friends of Neenah Menasha (BFNM) are excited to announce plans to merge into one youth mentoring agency effective Jan. 1, 2020. The newly merged organization will be part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (“BBBSA”) organization and will be known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin.
Currently, the two organizations support a combined 600 youth in need each year by pairing them with mentors throughout Calumet, Outagamie, Waupaca, and Winnebago counties.. Together, the organizations have more than 150 kids on a waiting list for a life‐changing role model.
“We began this process of exploring a merger for the future of our youth and our communities,” said Lindsay Fenlon, BBBS executive director. “Both of our strong organizations are supported by great staff and are really making an impact in the community, yet at the end of the day, we didn’t have enough resources to serve our communities. By combining volunteer and financial resources, we will be an even stronger youth mentoring organization that can ignite life‐changing friendships for youth in the area.”
With the aid of national consultants, Vista Global Coaching & Consulting, the two agencies conducted thorough evaluations and determined that a single youth mentoring organization has potential to operate more effectively, efficiently and sustainably, while also increasing public awareness of and engagement in the issues facing youth. Best Friends of Neenah Menasha board president John Werner shares, “This merger will strengthen our ability to meet the needs of youth in our communities, especially those kids on our waiting lists. We are committed to making a positive difference in the lives of all children and youth who just want a friend.”
For the past 46 years, the two youth‐serving organizations have served the community in tandem, both with a shared focus on helping all youth achieve their full potential. “We are excited to welcome the youth, families, volunteers, and community supporters of Best Friends of Neenah Menasha into the Big Brothers Big Sisters family,” shares BBBS board president Jill Uitenbroek. “Together, we will continue to work on defending the potential of every child in our community.”
BBBS of East Central Wisconsin will continue to engage all their current communities, serving volunteers, youth, and families in and throughout Calumet, Outagamie, Waupaca and Winnebago counties.
“We are committed to serving our families and youth and helping them succeed, and that commitment will only grow stronger in our merger,” said Jaime Kriewaldt, executive director of Best Friends. “We’ll still offer our same great services, support, activities, and above all else, continue to be available when our families need us.”
Effective January 1, the agency will relocate to one location, which will be announced in late 2019 with staff and programming continuing to engage in schools, workplaces, and throughout the community. “With this integration, our program team will have more flexibility to move around the community, to meet with kids at school, to connect with volunteers at their work or in community locations, and to catch up with matches as the Bigs and Littles hang out.” shares Kriewaldt. “Our goal is heightened community engagement and presence.”
Lindsay Fenlon has been appointed chief executive officer and Jaime Kriewaldt has been appointed chief program officer. The new agency will integrate all staff and leadership and the new Board of Directors will be comprised of representatives from BFNM and BBBS. Fenlon noted, “We’re committed to creating an inclusive organization that celebrates and leverages the talents of everyone involved.”
Learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters or how to get involved at www.bbbsfvr.org. Follow updates on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn using #BBBSFVR.
Big Brothers Big Sisters empowers mentoring opportunities to thousands of children. Together, with community partners, adult volunteer mentors (Bigs) and families, BBBS provides life‐changing friendships to children (Littles) with the goal of clearing a path to their greatest possible future.