CEO Corner: December Updates
Stacy Kramer, CEO
As the year comes to a close, I can't help but marvel at everything we have all been through this year. If, at this time last year, someone told me what 2020 would bring, I would have laughed and said, "Yeah, right!"
This time last year, BBBSNH had just finalized our new strategic plan, focusing on several key initiatives to drive forward our mission of serving more youth in mentoring relationships. Along with program goals, we identified priorities including better sharing the incredible stories of our matches, growing individual and corporate giving, and strengthening our board of directors. Despite the challenges the pandemic threw our way, we made positive steps in each of those areas this year.
We continued our commitment to matching more LGBTQ+ youth and strengthened our work in suicide prevention and trauma-informed mentoring by offering additional training to mentors and identifying youth early on that need additional support or connection. And while our Workplace Mentoring sites look different this school year, they all remain dedicated to providing mentors and providing financial support.
It was partly thanks to the strategic planning work last year that we could quickly pivot this spring, increasing our technology capabilities and continuing our urgent, necessary work to keep kids connected as everything around them was shutting down.
"We learned. We endured. We became a stronger organization."
This isn't the first time our organization has been turned on its head. As many of you know, back in 2015 we went through a merger of four regional BBBS agencies to form our current BBBS of New Hampshire. It was the right thing to do, as we needed to combine efforts and find efficiencies, but it didn't come without some side-steps and many difficult decisions. We learned. We endured. We became a stronger organization. I joke with our team practically every week that the merger prepared us for the pandemic.
Recently, I was honored to attend a virtual event honoring two-time past Big Brother Howard Brodsky, founder and co-CEO of CCA Global Partners located in Manchester. Howard was named Business Leader of the Decade by NH Business Magazine, and we here at BBBSNH have been honored to know Howard for many years as a Big Brother and founder of our first Workplace Mentoring Partnership.
It's been more than a decade since the program launched with CCA, with students from local schools riding a bus to CCA's beautiful offices in the Manchester's Millyard once a week to meet with their Big Brother or Big Sister. Not only does CCA Global allow staff to volunteer their time to provide mentoring, but the company financially supports each and every match, covering the staffing costs to make and support the matches, as well as conduct the necessary background checks and training procedures. It's a model that has been expanded to three other businesses in recent years: Exeter Hospital, Physicians Resources Unlimited and Northeast Delta Dental.
"I strongly believe that we rise up by lifting others up," Howard said in his acceptance speech. "I see the difference that children can make in this world, and they are our future.
"We have 22 young, vibrant kids come into our office every week, with a mentor and somebody that cares about them, somebody that loves them…Isn't that what we all need?"
I agree with Howard, and one thing we have come to learn is that our hundreds of volunteer mentors have true grit. A mentor truly has the biggest impact on a child - they can impact not only the child's life but every subsequent person the child comes into contact with. Especially during this crisis, many youth are up against seemingly-insurmountable obstacles and our volunteers show up, day in and day out, offering belonging, connection and inspiration.
As we head into 2021, I am certain that, just like with the 2015 merger, we will face the challenges ahead and come out on the other side stronger and wiser. We can't do what we do without you, and we thank you for standing with us and the youth of New Hampshire.