Mentoring organization seeks sponsors for fundraiser
FARMINGTON — An organization dedicated to helping at-risk children in the community by pairing them with older mentors is holding its annual fundraiser this summer, and it is seeking businesses and organizations to participate.
This is the first time San Juan County's Big Brothers/Big Sisters group has held the Bowl for Kids' Sake fundraiser since its recent merger with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central New Mexico, said Danielle Todacheene, who serves as the local organization's enrollment and outreach specialist.
Todacheene said the merger, which occurred last fall, took place because the local organization was experiencing difficulties operating independently.
"It's been a big change, and we're learning a lot about new regulations and standards that we have to adhere to," Todacheene said. "We had more freedom before the merger, but now we have a lot more support and resources to draw from."
The local organization has been holding the Bowl for Kids' Sake fundraiser for the past 12 years, Todacheene said. While past events have taken place in June at Bowlero Lanes in Farmington, this year's fundraiser, which will have a pirate theme, will be held at the bowling alley on July 22.
Todacheene said the economic downturn in the local community has led to a lack of sponsors for the event, so she's hoping businesses and groups will consider coming together to form a team.
"The event is open to anybody — they can sponsor a team or volunteer to be on a team," she said.
Teams consist of five individuals who commit to raising $100 each. Teams can be from a business or organization that sponsors them, or groups can get together and try to get someone to sponsor them. Individuals are even welcome to sign up and will be placed on a team.
"Team members can go online and ask friends and family in your network to donate $20 to their team — it's really easy," Todacheene said. "We have at least 10 teams so far, but we definitely need more teams, and we really need more sponsors."
Todacheene said the annual event is crucial to helping the organization pay for its programs. Last year, she said, Big Brothers/Big Sisters served 203 children in San Juan County through its community- and school-based programs. There are more than 75 children waiting to receive a mentor.
"A large portion of the kids who are waiting are boys," she said. "So we're really in need of men to volunteer to be mentors."
Those wishing to become Big Brothers/Big Sisters mentors must be at least 16 years old, and it's also possible for couples to mentor a child together.
Mentors, or "bigs," commit to spending between four and eight hours a month with their "littles." Teens participating in the school-based program go to the little's school and spend an hour each week with them. Mentors in the community-based program spend time with the child outside of his or her home doing activities such as seeing a movie, going to the park, visiting a museum, etc.
Mike Johnson works for the Farmington energy company Williams. Along with his two sons, Johnson participated in Bowl for Kids' Sake last year on a Williams team, and he said he will be bowling again this year on a Williams-sponsored team. Johnson said getting a business team together to participate in the fundraiser builds teamwork and is a positive and fun experience.
"We have a blast at Bowl for Kids' Sake," said Johnson. "Williams has had a partnership with Big Brothers and Big Sisters for years, and we have mentors that work for us who we allow to go meet with their littles during working hours."
Todacheene said volunteering with Big Brothers/Big Sisters doesn't only help the children involved in the program, but also gives the mentors a chance to view the world through different eyes.
"We have to sell hope to the kids," Todacheene said. "All these kids really want is for someone to look up to. Finding them mentors gives them hope — hope that they won't fall through the cracks and be left behind."
Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.
What: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central New Mexico in San Juan County's Bowl for Kids' Sake fundraiser
When: Noon to 2 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 22
Where: Bowlero Lanes, 3704 E. Main St. in Farmington
To register to be on a team or to sponsor a team, go to littlesneedbigs.org. Call 505-326-1508 or e-mail email@example.com for more information.