big brothers big sisters logo
The Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters program vision is for all children to achieve success in life. They work towards this vision by providing mentors to children who face adversity and need a caring and supportive relationship in their lives. Big Brothers Big Sisters provides a role model, a friendship and a bond to these children that will ultimately change their lives for the better. In this week’s Friday Focus we caught up with Michelle Hedrich, Executive Director, Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters and learned about one of their favorite moments and some upcoming events. Learn the many ways you can get involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters!

 Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

The Big Brother Big Sister program invests in children who live in adverse circumstances by providing one-to-one mentors to help them succeed. Our program recruits, screens, interviews, trains and provides ongoing support to the child, the volunteer, and the child’s family.  We match children ("Littles"), ages 6-13, with adult volunteer mentors (“Big”) who then meet on a consistent schedule a couple of hours a week in the community or at school.  We strive to develop the whole child through mentor activities that include educational, athletic, social and civic experiences.  Mentors inspire children to take proactive steps to reach their potential.  Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters (RBBBS) serves all of Planning District 16 (City of Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George and Caroline) and is part of the nation’s largest volunteer mentoring network. National Standards of Practice guide our mentoring model that is research-based and scientifically proven to achieve an improved quality of life for youth and for the community in which they live.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

 As told by one of our “Littles”: “Mr. Bruce has helped me to develop my self-confidence and recognize my talents. He has supported me by giving me ideas for paths for my future.  He had been in the Navy and travelled the world and explained what an amazing opportunity that was for him.  I am currently in the Navy ROTC at school so that I too may have an opportunity to perhaps join the Navy. I also am involved with the Family Career Community Leaders of America Club and the Future Business Leaders of America group at school.  When I grow up, I want to be a Big Brother so I can be a role model.”

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Recruiting male mentors!

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters is gearing up for Bowl For Kids' Sake our annual signature fundraising event on March 4 & 5.  Register your four-person team of co-workers, family or friends and raise money that will change a child's life forever. It is a great opportunity to get together for a few hours of fun while making a difference for kids. We will provide food, refreshments, and two hours of bowling to celebrate the impact your team made!

Bowling times : Saturday, March 4th @ 12:00 Saturday, March 4th @ 2:00 Sunday, March 5th @ 1:00

Go to Bowl for Kids’ to register your team or to become a sponsor. Online fundraising makes it easy to support mentoring!

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

  1. LIKE us on FACEBOOK – Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters
  2. Be a Mentor - Volunteer as a Big Brother or Big Sister one or two hours a week
  3. Be an Advocate for mentoring by:
  • Encouraging others to volunteer
  • Become a monthly online donor for as little as $10 or $25
  • Schedule a BBBS presentation at your office, civic group or church
  1. Be a Sponsor and/or Attendee of our fundraising events to support mentoring:
  • Bowl for Kids’ Sake – March
  • Virginia Gentlemen’s Spring Dance – April
  • Golf for Kids’ Sake – June
  • SantaCon - December

echo shelter
Project ECHO was created as an emergency, temporary shelter for those in need year-round. It currently can house over 40 men, women and children at a time. Project ECHO serves not only as a warm and safe place for people to stay but also as a guide for opportunities to help individuals live a stable and independent lifestyle. In this week’s Friday Focus, we spoke to Teressa Beavers, Development Director of Project ECHO, and learned the difficulties many people have in finding affordable housing even with a steady job. Project ECHO gives so much to people in need, let’s discover what we can do to help.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

Project ECHO is the homeless shelter of Calvert County. We’ve been here since 1992 and we’re open year-round for men, women and families who need temporary, emergency shelter. We provide a 90-day program where clients are given a clean, safe place to stay as well as opportunities to become more self-sufficient, healthier, happier, productive people. Our aim is to provide a place where the homeless don’t just survive, they grow. Outside of our shelter we also offer supportive housing through two shared-living boarding houses and two Oxford recovery houses.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

The best moments are always when former clients come by to say that they’re doing well and to thank us for providing the things they most needed when they most needed them.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

The lack of affordable housing is a huge challenge. When people leave our shelter, even with 90-days of savings and steady income from decent jobs, they still have a very hard time securing housing. It takes the equivalent of four full-time minimum wage jobs to cover the cost of living in an average rental in Southern Maryland.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

The Win $10,000 Winter Raffle is going on now through the end of February. The 17th annual Empty Bowl Supper will be held at St. John Vianney on April 1st, 2017. Our long-awaited thrift shop project is coming along and we hope to open our doors to the public this spring.

 Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

Check out our website for volunteer opportunities such as assisting the shelter house manager or working in the thrift store. We have a few openings listed on our monthly meal provider calendar and a Wish List of our most needed items. Call, email or Facebook us anytime and if you’re in the area during business hours feel free to stop by and see us to discuss ways to get involved. www.ProjectECHO.net

community theater
Do you love the arts? Culture? Music? Creating Communities inspires you with all three through their unique programs, mentorships and events. They strive to create a society where the arts are an important part of the community, connecting people and influencing their lives. Creating Communities reaches out to the youth of Annapolis to provide them with an opportunity to create, learn and grow. In this week’s Friday Focus, we had the pleasure of hearing from Founder and Executive Director of Creating Communities, Rob Levit, who is an award-winning musician and community leader. Mr. Levit shared some of the organizations favorite moments and challenges they face.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.) We are a small but mighty nonprofit organization that serves hundreds of talented yet low-income youth from Annapolis and Anne Arundel County through powerful arts mentoring programs. This includes our Tuesday Afternoon Learning Experience and Wednesday Afternoon Arts Club for Title I elementary school students living in public housing, our Arts Ambassadors Program for Bates Middle School students who explore the possibility of world drumming creativity, as well as our multi-award winning Arts Mentorship Academy, held each summer at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. In addition, we have a teen program called the Youth Arts Fellowship, which gives our high school students and opportunity to learn, create and interact with master artists and a mural program that creates and install historical and cultural murals in community centers. In 2017, we are on track to serve over 500 students! Here’s a video link to our Arts Mentorship Academy - https://youtu.be/TTSiOu5KywI

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

This past year, our Youth Arts Fellowship students had a personal visit and lunch with world-renowned actor Kevin Bacon. Kevin and his nonprofit heard about us and it was a big boost for our morale as well as our attending students and parents. One of our students was interviewed by the BBC along with Kevin Bacon regarding the visit!  In addition, we have seen many of our students continue on to college, receive honors and scholarships and return to volunteer or work in our programs.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

Two – many still don’t understand how uniquely powerful the arts are at teaching life skills like collaboration, communication, perseverance and planning. Fortunately, there is a massive amount of evidence that shows the amazing power of the arts and how it benefits not only children in poverty, but all children. See how. In addition, while we have always been fortunate, raising funds is always a challenge. We are a nonprofit organization in good standing so it’s 100% tax-deductible. http://www.creatingcommunities.net/donate/

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

We have our Arts Mentorship Academy coming up the week of June 19-23 and are always looking for committed adult volunteers to assist in many ways during the week. Our adult volunteers find that their lives are changed in much the same way as our students. It’s inspiring and a learning experience for all. We bring in guest artists and have music, movement, art, creative writing and robotics/electronics every day.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

We have two afternoon programs, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday, and we always need good volunteers. Also, we can use tax-deductible donations to power our programs. Email Executive Director Rob Levit at rlevit@comcast.net or visit www.creatingcommunities.net and watch our video!