Avedis gives $15K grant to BBBSOK

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star
Shown are Avedis Foundation President and CEO Dr. Kathy Laster, fifth from left, presenting the grant check to Nikki Rieves, Shawnee area director; joined by members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Local Resource Board: From left, Mary Belle Zook, Jeff Chamblin, Vivian Lozano-Stafford and Lane Howard; at center back are Avedis staff members Tracy Meeuwson and Cheyenne Pettigrew; and BBBS board members Jennifer Siestema, Lisa Watson and Leslie Merritt.

The Avedis Foundation recently issued a $15,000 grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma Inc. (BBBSOK), which has a mission to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships with youth.

“The Avedis Foundation is pleased to provide this grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma to benefit and impact the lives of Shawnee children,” Avedis Foundation President and CEO Dr. Kathy Laster said. “Local Director Nikki Rieves, along with her dedicated board, are committed to provide caring, stable and positive role models to at-risk children.”

BBBSOK matches children who are facing adversity with caring and dedicated adult mentors for longterm, life-guiding relationships. Through the program, the child experiences the consistency and positive influence of a one-to-one relationship with a “Big” (volunteer mentor) who chooses to spend quality time with their “Little” (child mentee) on a regular basis. Bigs and Littles are matched based on things like personality, common interests and needs of the child. Matches meet individually two to three times a month. They develop a relationship that provides an outlet for the Little and a model for handling everyday challenges. Over time, the goal is that Littles will gain confidence, achieve new skills and competencies and develop an enhanced capacity to care for others.

“The Avedis Foundation's continued support of our work will transform lives of children in Shawnee for the better, forever,” BBBSOK grant writer Hailey Chenevert said. “With this grant, we can provide kids with mentors that will shape their futures and defend their potential.”

With the support of this grant BBBSOK will be able to recruit new volunteers and children to the program, interview and assess all applicants, thoroughly screen all volunteers for child safety concerns, identify the right Big for each Little, and host celebratory introductions for each new match.

Matches receive regular support from BBBSOK’s professionally-trained program specialists to promote positive outcomes, long and healthy matches and child safety.

Matches meet in person — and are instructed to follow CDC and local guidelines as they are put in place — but are welcome to meet virtually.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.

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