Press Coverage From Our South Side Office Opening

Our new regional office opened on the corner of 63rd and Halsted in May of 2019. You can read more about our office and the opening here

We were featured in many local outlets such as the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, WBEZ, and WBBM, and you can read some of the coverage below.

Chicago Tribune: One way to make a difference in the life of a Chicago child: Volunteer

Wringing your hands over violence in Chicago and other problems among young people? That’s one approach. Here’s a better one: Look for a volunteer organization that does good work in the community and offer to help.

For example: As summer begins, 350 children sit on the waitlist of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, hoping to find an adult who can give them some extra attention. About 70 percent are boys, many on the South and West sides. The nonprofit recently opened a new office in Englewood. It has recruited mentors through churches, community groups and even barbershops.

Mentors must be willing to give some time: They meet with their “Little” one-on-one twice a month and commit to the program for at least a year, though the average length of service is four years. They might have to overcome nervousness about entering neighborhoods they typically don’t visit, ones where children have to navigate their lives every day.

Bigs might work on a goal like helping the child with reading, but the basic idea is just to hang out and do fun activities together, with guidance and influence happening naturally, during the car ride or the seventh-inning stretch. Plenty of children have loving parents, often a single mother, who sign them up for a mentor because they don’t have the time or money for outings and enrichment activities. Kids may have multiple siblings and not get a lot of individual time with a parent. Visits to restaurants, amusement parks, museums and ballgames might be new to them — not something they take for granted.

The century-old organization has updated its approach to volunteers in recent years. In the rideshare era, Bigs are no longer required to have cars. There are extensive background checks, but contact with the criminal justice system that is unrelated to child safety or well-being is not necessarily a disqualifier. There’s also an increased awareness that some young people experience gender in more fluid ways and need mentors who are on the same wavelength. Parents and children share their preferences for a mentor and ultimately must approve any match.

Organizations can help out too. Law enforcement officers sign up as Bigs, an attempt to improve understanding between police and communities. Corporations or office buildings can host on-site programs. Donations are welcome. It costs about $2,000 to cover the first year of mentoring, primarily to recruit, screen and train Bigs, then monitor the relationship, says Kristine Brown, director of marketing and communications.

There are other ways to support a child, including becoming a licensed Department of Children and Family Services foster parent. The opportunities to help are out there.

Children, Brown points out, are always being influenced by someone. The challenge is to make sure it’s the right person, one who can guide them in the right direction rather than nudge them in the wrong one. Why not you?

Chicago Sun-Times: Big Brothers Big Sisters Opens Regional Office in Englewood

About 70 percent of the children on the group’s waiting list live on the South and West sides of Chicago.

Hundreds of children are on a waiting list at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago, and the need for mentors who are men, and people of color, is particularly acute on the city’s south and west sides.

Now the group has opened an office in Englewood, hoping to tackle that part of the problem. The office, at 747 W. 63rd St., is in rented space at Kennedy-King College.

The list could be even longer, but the group says it cuts it off to keep children from waiting for years without any real hope of a match.

About 70 percent of the children on the waiting list live on the South and West sides of Chicago, said Kristine Brown, a local spokesperson. The metro Chicago group covers Cook, Lake and DuPage counties, as well as Lake County in northwest Indiana.

Having a well-marked office in a high-traffic location — it used to be a bookstore — will, the group hopes, promote the organization and attract more people willing to become mentors, Brown said.

A donation from the Caerus Foundation is helping the group with the expansion into Englewood.

WBEZ Morning Shift: Big Brothers Big Sisters Open New Englewood Office

Here in Chicago, former mayor Rahm Emanuel made mentoring a cornerstone of his fight against hopelessness and violence among the city’s youth. That was music to Jeremy Foster’s ears. He’s the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago. BBBS has been in the mentoring business for more than a hundred years. Yesterday, staff members, community partners, and even a Chicago Bear were on hand to cut the ribbon on a new Southside regional office. Jeremy Foster is the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago and joins Morning Shift.

WBBM: Big Brothers Big Sisters Opens Office In Englewood

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago officially opened a satellite office in one area of the city where volunteers are needed most: Englewood.

The new office is at Kennedy-King College at 63rd and Halsted.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Spokesperson Kristine Brown said the headquarters is in the West Loop, but there are a lot of reasons they've opened their first satellite office in Englewood.

"The main reason is because the majority of kids on our wait list are from the South and West Side,” Brown said.

There are 350 kids on the waiting list.

Margaret Echelbarger has been a Big Sister since January.

She said there are a number of things she's learned in her 32 years she'd like to share with her 14-year-old Little Sister:

"To be kind. To be humble and to help those around us and to be empathetic. These are the sorts of things that, when I turned to others, they showed me.

"I want to show her there's a larger community out there who wants to share these same things with her."