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Defenders of potential.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire

As CEO Stacey Kramer explains, “We believe all kids have potential coming into our program, and it’s really just our job to help provide guidance and opportunity.” And for 55 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire (BBBSNH) has been doing just that, ever growing and improving. Hannaford has donated more than $1,100 to BBBSNH through the Community Bag and Bloomin’ 4 Good programs.

Tell us about Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire.

Our sole mission is around one-to-one mentoring. That’s our niche and we’re really good at it. We’ve been doing it nationally for almost 128 years. In New Hampshire, this is our 55th year. In 2015, there were four Big Brother Big Sister agencies in our state, and we merged into one overall organization covering the state.

One-to-one mentoring research shows that the biggest influence on kids is having a positive adult role model in their lives. And our mission is around creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships. We believe all kids have potential coming into our program, and it’s really just our job to help provide guidance and opportunity.

What services do you supply to the community?

Our services are everything from recruiting volunteers through assessment profiling, that is, making sure it’s the right match. The reason for our success over so many years and generations is that we tailor our program, and we get better. The more we know, the better we get at doing it. We’ve been doing it for a long time, and it’s really about finding the right fit so that it can be a long match. On average, our matches last about two-and-a-half years. We ask for a one-year commitment and some last much longer than that. We have matches that have been going on as long as 10 years. It’s about making a lifelong match, making that connection for kids.

It’s about opening up opportunities for kids that they might not have seen or don’t even know they’re missing.

And I think that’s so critical, especially if we’ve learned anything from the past. Our kids and our youth need connection. We all do. It’s about opening up opportunities for kids that they might not have seen or don’t even know they’re missing.

During the pandemic we kept operating; we made over a hundred matches for new youths in our program. And we were the eyes and ears into a lot of families that needed extra assistance and guidance.

We provide referrals and that’s why it’s so important for us to work side-by-side with our fellow nonprofits. That’s really how we operate differently in terms of the mentoring piece, what sets us apart from other organizations that have it as a side component. This is our one mission. And what also sets us apart is the fact that we have this ongoing support. We put a lot of effort into making the right match, but then we provide support moving forward for the whole duration of the match.

We’re launching a new program in the fall called Mentor 2.0, which is matching high school students with workplace mentors. And it’s really going to be spectacular. It’s the first time we’ve been able to do this in the Granite State. We’re excited about that, and it will provide a whole other set of opportunities for kids.

Tell us a story that illustrates the good work you are doing.

One of our recent newsletters highlighted a match with Cam and Adam. Cam is a Little interested in learning more about music and playing the guitar and that’s what he would do with Adam, his Big. They connected with our board member Matt, who does several concerts a year to benefit BBBSNH. Matt invited Cam and Adam to attend the last concert.

Cam got to play up on stage and it was quite an experience. Matt connected with another nonprofit that provides art and music supplies to kids that need them. Now Cam’s gotten a new guitar. When he went to pick up the new guitar (and the amp that was also donated), he and Adam played music with Matt for several hours. I think they’re going to be lifelong friends. Cam said, “ I can’t believe all this is happening to me; I’m so lucky.”

The other day in our team meeting, the staff were telling me about a couple of new Bigs that recently got engaged and they’re very excited because they’re going to have their Littles in their wedding as a junior bridesmaid and a junior usher. We have another match where every time they get together, they go out horseback riding and help out at the farm. They make a photo book every year of all their adventures throughout the year.

What is your greatest achievement or contribution to the community?

I have such enthusiasm for this organization and what our team does because what we do really matters. It does make a difference saying that Big Brothers Big Sisters is evidence-based. We know what works. We change things up as we learn more and can do better in supporting our matches. I’m just so proud that we’ve been able to grow and expand in our 55 years in New Hampshire. And we’d like to be able to do more of that.

I know we’re not serving all the kids that need it. And that’s our goal. We’re not going to stop until every child who wants a mentor has one.

We’re not going to stop until every child who wants a mentor has one.

What do you want people to know about Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire?

While mentoring is our niche, we have different types. We have community-based mentoring, which is what most people think of when they think of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Those matches are out in the community and doing things. Then we also have our site and our school-based programs where mentors go and have lunch with them or get together after school. We have a lot of those different types of programs.

And it’s a lot more than just putting somebody with somebody. This is really life-changing for a lot of our kids in terms of helping with so many different pieces: suicide prevention, opioid prevention, changing their outlook on risk behaviors, building confidence.

The program is free to anybody who signs up, but we have to fundraise every year to be able to support the organization time and staff to make the matches and conduct all of the work that has to happen. We have to have staffing throughout the entire process to make it a smooth process.

How are you using the funds you’ve received from the Hannaford Helps Bloomin’ 4 Good Program?

These funds go back into programming. It helps with enrolling a child and  with the ongoing support including paying for criminal background checks and training. It also helps with training, both our volunteers and staff; essentially, all the things that go into making a successful match.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

We talk about giving your time, your treasure or your talent that is so critical to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Our mentors are everything, and that it doesn’t take a lot to have an impact. We ask for a year commitment and six hours a month. So that’s every other weekend for a few hours and it’s just that consistency is important. The big thing is that it doesn’t take a lot.

We have an impact circle program, where you can give monthly to help with criminal background check, training and other support pieces. Everything can be found at our website at www.bbbsnh.org.

Stacy Kramer is the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire and a former Big Sister. She has been with the organization more than 10 years and was appointed to her current position in 2018. Stacy is a passionate advocate for BBBSNH, saying, “I am always enthusiastic to share and tell great stories that illustrate our great mission!