I hope this message finds you safe, happy and healthy,
First, I would like to thank you all for your continued commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Racine and Kenosha – on behalf of our Littles – during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a life-altering event for us all, but thanks to social distancing and other precautionary measures, we are not aware that any of our Bigs, Littles or staff have contracted the virus.
While guidelines from our political and medical leaders are beginning to slowly reopen some non-essential businesses like restaurants, beaches and state parks, our recommendation is that, for now, you continue to limit the contact with your Big or Little to electronic communication only. We have been inspired by the many creative ways that our matches have been able to stay in touch during these trying times. So, I ask that you hold on just a little longer.
With the loosened restrictions by the Governor’s Stay-At-Home order, we recognize that some of you are anxious to resume face-to-face time with your Little. Be aware that such meetings are currently at your own risk and contrary to our recommendation at this time. While we understand that you miss seeing your Little in person, we strongly encourage you to continue to take advantage of available technology: text, phone calls, e-mail, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc. Check out our Facebook Page and past e-newsletter for more ideas and suggestions for staying connected virtually.
The BBBS board and I are looking out for everyone’s personal safety and best interest. With that said, if you choose to still consider taking that step of meeting in person, we ask that you respectfully adhere to the following in the interest of all involved:
Bigs must always have the express permission of the Little’s parent or guardian to resume in-person outings. Ultimately, the parent or legal guardian of a child have the final say in what their child can do, and what they cannot do
Bigs should provide detailed information to the parent or guardian about how you intend to spend your time with the Little, and where you intend to go.
Limit your time together to outdoor activities such as walks, bike riding, fishing and other open-air activities where maintaining 6 feet of distance between yourselves and others is more possible. Large crowds should be avoided.
While traveling by car together and otherwise in each other’s company, both you and your Little should follow all guidelines from the Center for Disease Control.
Littles should ride in the back seat and both parties should wear a mask.
Avoid close physical contact with the Little and his/her family (do not hug, shake hands or fist-bump).
Wash your hands with soap frequently and bring along hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your face (masks help us avoid touching our faces).
Keep outings to a reasonable length of time but no more than an average of 8 hours per month.
Do NOT meet face to face if the Big, Little or a family member are experiencing a fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms associated with COVID-19 or if anyone just does not feel good.
In making decisions to meet, consider whether there are other vulnerable people living in the Little’s home (people who are over the age of 60, pregnant, disabled, have a compromised immune system, etc.) So far, the most people who have died from the COVID-19 virus were 65 or older.
Bigs should pass on these rules to their Littles and continually reinforce them, as well as checking the website by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for additional guidance on staying safe.
As always, the health and safety of our children, their families, our volunteers, and our staff remain my highest priority. Keep that in mind with every decision you make. Regardless of the method, it is crucial that we maintain our mentoring relationships throughout this difficult time. Your Little needs you now more than ever. It is also essential and required that you stay in touch with our Match Support Specialist.
It has been an interesting time. In just a matter of weeks, our agency converted a 100% community-based mentor program and the enrollment of new volunteers to a virtual experience: from online orientations, to video interviews and, in recent weeks, to new matches being introduced virtually. (NOTE: matches that originated virtually must remain virtual until an in-person meeting with a BBBS staff person is able to be conducted.)
We are proud and thankful for everyone who has helped us maintain this important work. But for now, be safe. Make good decisions and we make our way back to normal. Reach out if you have questions or concerns. And trust that brighter days are on the way.
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Match Support Specialist, Crystina Hawley () for guidance or myself (sonya.thomas@beabignow) to discuss.
We are also available by phone Mon-Fri. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (262) 637-7625 and by appointment-only at our Taylor Avenue office in Racine.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Racine and Kenosha Counties