Press Release

Thank You, and Farewell

August, 2021

Dear Friends,

I’m writing to share the news that my last day at Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee will be Wednesday, Sept. 1. Being part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters family these last four years – and seven total – has been the highlight of my career. And while I am excited for my next step in which I’ll return to higher education development, I can’t help but feel sadness at the end of my era with this agency.

This organization has meant the world to me: I met my wife at Big Brothers Big Sisters; my Little Brother Eli remains a close friend; and my BBBS colleagues – locally, statewide, and nationally – are like family to me.

I am immensely proud of the work we’ve done, thanks to your support. Since 2016, BBBS of East Tennessee has been named a Quality Award or better each year, with one Pinnacle Award, one national Agency of the Year semifinalist honor, and one national Agency of the Year win in 2019. This organization is successful not because of one person, but because of a community of people, and I have no doubt our phenomenal success will continue.

In addition to our achievements nationally, BBBS-ETN has been on a record-breaking fundraising pace the last two years. As a result, we’ve invested in our team, expanded our programs, and reached a level of reserves that will keep the agency on stable footing for years to come. Most importantly, we’ve served thousands of youth and families in new and innovative ways—including during a global pandemic when BBBS-ETN services have been more vital than ever.

I take extreme pride in the team we’ve brought together, including a number of new roles that will help BBBS-ETN serve more youth and families, better. Though the departure is extremely difficult for me, I feel confident in the board and staff—and in our leadership team which, collectively, has nearly 20 years of experience with BBBS-ETN.

I’m also thrilled to say that the BBBS-ETN board of directors has named Tyler Boldin interim CEO, effective Sept. 2. Many of you know Tyler personally through his service as BBBS-ETN’s Chief Development Officer, and I’m certain you’ll agree he’s the perfect person at the helm during this time. In terms of next steps, the board has formed a search committee that will launch a thorough search—for more details, visit TennesseeBig.org/careers. I remain confident we have the pieces in place to make this a seamless transition that will propel our agency forward.

I want to end on a note of thanks. Thank you for your standing beside this agency. Thank you for uplifting my team and me. Thank you for your faith in me as a leader. I look forward to maintaining my connection with each of you and with Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee—as a donor, advocate, and volunteer.

With utmost gratitude,

–Brent
LinkedIn.com/in/BrentWaugh

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee honored with national Quality Award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Board member Richard Riley also recognized as most outstanding local board member

Knoxville, TN (July 19, 2021) – Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) honored Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (BBBS-ETN) with a national Quality Award at its national conference in June.

Each year, the BBBSA Nationwide Leadership Council—made up of local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency leaders and board members—recognizes a handful of agencies for excellence in program outcomes. In the face of numerous challenges in the past year—including the pandemic, social unrest, and economic uncertainty—17 mid-sized Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies received Quality Awards.

“I am extremely grateful for this recognition from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America,” said BBBS-ETN CEO Brent Waugh. “These honors are a testament to our Bigs, Littles, and families—as well as our staff, board, and supporters. Together, our work leads to a brighter future for area youth.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters programs rely on in-person connections, but social distancing due to the pandemic prompted agencies to find innovative ways for volunteer mentors (‘Bigs’) to stay connected with their mentees (called ‘Littles’), including virtual events, porch hangouts, and other socially distanced activities.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee served 738 youth with Bigs last year. Staff provided support and coaching using a virtual model; they also found ways to connect Bigs, Littles and their families with additional resources through regular family needs assessment phone calls.

“Over the past several months, I’ve heard from agency leaders in rural towns and metropolitan communities, those in the suburbs and every place in between,” said Artis Stevens, President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “And there’s one theme I’ve noticed everywhere, and that’s the power of resilience. We congratulate these agencies for earning these top honors. The level of commitment and dedication is outstanding, to see staff doing all they can to make sure our youth will not only survive these challenging times but thrive.”

In addition to receiving a Quality Award, BBBS-ETN Board Member Richard Riley received the Clifford P. Norman Award—given to the most outstanding local board member in the nation.

The award honors a local board leader who exemplifies the qualities of commitment and generosity that were characteristic of Cliff Norman’s life, according to a news release. Norman was a member of both Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit and of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for more than 25 years, and known for his goodwill in local and national efforts.

Riley, a Big Brother and BBBS-ETN board member for six years, was recognized for his longtime work with the agency and his recent efforts to create and launch BBBS-ETN’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.

Award recipients were formally recognized at the 2021 Virtual ‘Bigger Together’ National Conference in June.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s 2019 national Agency of the Year, defends potential in children through strong and enduring, professionally supported one‐to‐one relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Children enrolled in the program achieve measurable outcomes, including improved educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater self-confidence, and better relationships. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organizations’ 51-year history.

BBBS-ETN is committed to keeping kids connected through a supportive mentor and dedicated case workers. The agency goes one step further, linking both families and caregivers with critical services, serving those affected by food insecurity, loss of income, lack of healthcare, isolation, and anxiety.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

Founded in 1904, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is the largest and most experienced youth mentoring organization in the United States. The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ evidence-based approach is designed to create positive youth outcomes, including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and improved relationships. Big Brothers Big Sisters has more than 230 local agencies serving more than 5,000 communities across all 50 states. For more information, visit: www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org. 

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Kansas City Chiefs Rookie Trey Smith Joins UnitedHealthCare and Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee to Distribute New Shoes to Kids

Knoxville, TN – (June 22, 2021) – Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Lineman and former Tennessee Vol star Trey Smith is teaming up with UnitedHealthcare to distribute new sneakers and socks to 60 kids participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee mentorship program.

UnitedHealthcare volunteers will be on hand to help as each “Little” is presented a new pair of shoes and an opportunity to meet Trey.

About UnitedHealthCare – UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.

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BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF EAST TENNESSEE HOSTS 2021 COLLEGE AND CAREER FAIR, PRESENTED BY ARCONIC FOUNDATION.

Event to include Scholarship Celebration for graduating seniors

Knoxville, TN – (May 3, 2021) – Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (BBBS-ETN) will host its first in-person event in more than 18 months—the 2021 College and Career Fair, presented by Arconic Foundation.

The event, which focuses on careers in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), will take place at the open-air World’s Fair Park Amphitheater on Thursday, May 6, and includes a career fair, scholarship celebration, and career panel.

The program will begin at 5:15 with an announcement of scholarship recipients, followed by a career panel which includes:

  • Panel Moderator: Dave Miller, First Horizon Bank
  • Marc Caldwell: Veterinarian
  • Shelly Clemons: Police Officer
  • Jenny McGuigan: Park Ranger
  • Stephanie Smith: Anesthesiologist
  • Wes Stowers, Owner: Stowers Machinery
  • Sergeant Desiree Wright: US Army

The college and career fair features two-year, four-year, trade schools, and colleges and universities, as well as companies. A full list of exhibitors is available at TennesseeBig.org/ccf.

Visuals

  • First-generation college students receiving post-secondary scholarships.
  • Austin East’s “Miss Senior” – Tenayia Bishop – receiving a scholarship.
  • Presentation of the Austin French Memorial Scholarships by Austin’s Big Brother Bill Park.
  • Addresses from noteworthy career panelists. 
  • BBBS-ETN staff, as well as mentors, will be available for interview before and after the program.

Day-of contact: Brent Waugh, CEO: (865) 804-1288.

For more information on the College and Career Fair – including a full list of scholarship recipients – visit TennesseeBig.org/ccf.

Event sponsors include Arconic Foundation, First Horizon, Stowers Machinery, Trane, University of Tennessee College of Social Work

About Arconic Foundation
Arconic Foundation partners with nonprofit and community organizations to strengthen its communities by enhancing education through skill-building learning experiences, promoting environmental sustainability, and advancing social equity. The foundation is independently endowed with assets of approximately $150 million and invests in the communities of Arconic Corp., which provides aluminum products in the ground transportation, aerospace, industrial, packaging and building, and construction markets.

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Big Brothers BIG Sisters Supporter Ed Harmon Donates $50,000 to Support Agency’s Continued COVID-19 Efforts

KNOXVILLE/MARYVILLE, TN (March 22, 2021) DONATION

The gift, which also commemorates the agency’s 50th anniversary, matches funding from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)

Long-time supporter William “Ed” Harmon has made a $50,000 gift to Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (BBBS-ETN) in commemoration of the agency’s 50th anniversary and in support of its effort to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on underserved families.

Harmon’s gift joins funding received from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). SNF gave support to fifteen Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) agencies around the U.S. to help youth stay virtually connected to their mentors during a time of physical distancing.

The funding Harmon provided will help make and support 80 matches in his home county, Blount County, as well as Anderson, Knox, and Sevier counties.

Each match between Big and Little includes a dedicated caseworker who provides regular support and wraparound services. More than 75% of families served by BBBS-ETN say it has been the first agency to reach out during the pandemic and nearly 90% site their child’s mentor as a source of support during the pandemic.

Harmon, who helped found Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee in 1970, has supported the agency for fifty years.

“Ed Harmon has left an indelible impact on Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee,” said BBBS-ETN CEO Brent Waugh. “We are unbelievably grateful for not only his financial contributions—which are more important now than ever—but also for his advocacy for nearly five decades. Mr. Harmon has forever changed the lives of countless youth in Blount County and throughout East Tennessee.”

“I am proud to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee and delighted to know that my funds will join those from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation,” Harmon said. “This agency means so much to me. It’s been a pleasure to see thousands of lives positively impacted by the organization over the last fifty years, especially now, when the needs of families are so great.”

A native of Maryville, Harmon lived in Pigeon Forge for 35 years and owned Country Oaks Cottages. He is an active member of several boards and organizations. Harmon is also a member of the Broadway United Methodist Church. Harmon’s financial support includes significant gifts to non-profits, universities, and community colleges throughout East Tennessee.

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Bigs Essentials Training Release Announcement

NEW UPDATES FROM BBBS-ETN

KNOXVILLE, TN (March 8, 2021) BIGS ESSENTIAL TRAINING

Six Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates from across the state of Tennessee have partnered to bring mentors the tools you need to connect with your Little about real-world issues. Whether you’ve been a Big for five minutes or five years, make plans to join us for these important conversations!

Littles and Their Mental Health How to help when you’re not sure what’s going on. — March 18 | 6pm-7:30pm CST Register Here

“Out” and In: Mentoring LGBTQ+ Youth Gain tools for building relationships with LGBTQ and non-binary youth. — June 10 | 6pm-7:30pm CST Register Here

Healthy Masculinity How you can make sure messages about masculinity stay healthy for your Little. — September 22 | 6pm-7:30pm CST Register Here

Cultural Humility How to learn from your Little when you have different racial identities. — October 19 | 6pm-7:30pm CST Register Here

Moving From Ally to Co-Conspirator in Anti-Racist Work Make the world better for us ALL. — November 9 | 6pm-7:30pm CST Register Here

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College and Career Fair Media Release Announcement

NEW UPDATES FROM BBBS-ETN

KNOXVILLE, TN (January 28, 2021) BBBS-ETN COLLEGE AND CAREER FAIR, PRESENTED BY ARCONIC

World’s Fair Amphitheater (outdoors), with virtual options available

Thursday, May 6, 2021 [Event: 4:30p.m. – 6:30p.m. | Panel: 5:15p.m. – 5:45p.m.]

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee is thrilled to announce its 2021 College and Career Fair, presented by Arconic. The event is currently planned to take place outdoors, at the World’s Fair Amphitheater in downtown Knoxville.

For more information and to sign up for the fair, contact BBBS-ETN Match Support Director, Conner Patterson at CPatterson@TennesseeBig.org.

COVID-19 protocols: Attendance will be limited and by reservation only. Additionally, attendees will be masked and distanced, with all necessary COVID-19 protocols in place.

Panel Overview: 5:15p.m. – 5:45p.m.
This event will include an outdoor career fair, plus a panel of 5-6 speakers. Under the current plan, all panelists will be seated on an outdoor stage, socially distanced, and in masks.

The panel itself will take place from 5:15p.m. – 5:45p.m.. Attendees will be seated in an extremely socially distanced manner, outdoors, and in masks.

Panelists will introduce themselves, provide a brief overview of their position and background. A moderator will then ask pre-submitted questions, as well as questions from the audience.

College and Career Fair: 4:30p.m. – 6:30p.m.
The event will include a College and Career Fair featuring two-year, four-year, trade schools, and colleges/universities, as well as companies. Fair participants are encouraged to bring materials for middle and high school Littles, as well as participants in our Postsecondary Success Program (ages 18-23).

Whether or not you are able to attend the fair, we encourage you to share materials that we can put in a digital College and Career packet for youth in our program. To do so, email your digital materials to Programs@TennesseeBig.org.

Current Sponsors
Arconic
Stowers Machinery

For more information on sponsorship opportunities, contact Tyler Boldin at TBoldin@TennesseeBig.org.

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Reading to Learn Amerigroup Media Release Announcement

NEW UPDATES FROM BBBS-ETN

KNOXVILLE, TN (February 2, 2021) BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF EAST TENNESSEE LAUNCHES READING TO LEARN PROGRAM WITH AMERIGROUP

Literacy initiative will serve youth in Anderson, Blount, Knox, and Sevier Counties.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (BBBS-ETN) has launched a Reading to Learn (R2L) program in January, aimed at establishing a firm foundation for students at Title I schools in the Knoxville area.

The literacy-focused initiative, funded by Amerigroup, matches mentors with elementary students who participate together in reading activities.

Reading to Learn first launched in the Tri-Cities area in November 2018 with the support of private donors. More than 80% of Tri-Cities R2L students maintained or improved their grades in all subjects, and 90% improved or maintained their language arts grades.

“The Reading to Learn program will not only improve literacy for hundreds of youth—it will ignite their potential as mentees move on to high school, postsecondary pathways, and careers,” said BBBS-ETN CEO Brent Waugh. “We are grateful for the support of Amerigroup which made this program possible.”

The R2L program is a component of Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee’s wraparound model that supports not only Littles, but their parents and families as well – connecting them with educational opportunities, access to health and healthy lifestyle resources, financial assistance, and numerous other community resources.

“Amerigroup continues to invest in our communities and provide resources for our local youth and families to enhance learning and development,” said Robert Garnett, plan president, Amerigroup Tennessee. “Social drivers of health, including education and access to learning tools and opportunities, continue to be barriers to positive health outcomes and overall wellness. Amerigroup remains committed to addressing these barriers through community relationships like BBBS-ETN to promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle.”

R2L will serve 40 mentees in year one, impacting approximately 200 individuals, and 50 in year two, for a total of 250 individuals impacted. Funding for the initiative will cover the cost of books, literacy activities, and targeted monthly youth and family support from a dedicated case worker.

About Amerigroup Tennessee

Amerigroup Tennessee, Inc. helps improve healthcare access and quality for more than 460,000 Tennessee residents who participate in the state’s various Medicaid programs. Amerigroup serves Tennesseans by developing and delivering innovative care management programs and services. Amerigroup Tennessee members are assured care that is not only accessible, but also accountable, comprehensive, integrated and patient-centered. It provides ongoing community relations and outreach to encourage members to become active participants in their healthcare. For more information about Amerigroup, please visit our website at www.myamerigroup.com/tn.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters defends potential in children through strong and enduring, professionally supported one‐to‐one relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Children enrolled in the program achieve measurable outcomes, including improved educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater self-confidence, and better relationships. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organizations’ decades-long history in Tennessee.

During the COVID-19 crisis – and every day – BBBS is committed to keeping kids connected through a supportive mentor and dedicated case workers. The agency goes one step further, linking both families and caregivers with critical services, serving those affected by food insecurity, loss of income, lack of healthcare, isolation, and anxiety due to COVID-19.

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2Gen Media Release Announcement

NEW UPDATES FROM BBBS-ETN

KNOXVILLE, TN (January 25, 2021) TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES ANNOUNCES $1 MILLION IN GRANTS TO AREA BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS AFFILIATES

Grant dollars will serve the needs of parents and their children across East Tennessee.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) has awarded a $1 million grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga through its nationally recognized Two Generation (2Gen) approach.

These funds – $500,000 to BBBS-ETN and $500,000 to BBBS of Greater Chattanooga – will support innovative programs that move children and their parents and guardians toward educational success and economic security. TDHS funds also support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee agency, which serves Nashville and surrounding counties.

Each grant is funded through federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program dollars and approved through a collaboration with the Tennessee General Assembly TANF Work Group.

Grant dollars will support hundreds of families throughout East Tennessee, including both urban and rural areas. In addition to those youth and families served through one-to-one mentoring relationships, BBBS agencies will provide educational programs for youth and parents and guardians while they wait to be matched with a mentor.

“The pandemic has only increased the isolation of the children and families we serve, nearly half of which report feelings of isolation and depression,” said BBBS-ETN CEO Brent Waugh. “2Gen funding will allow BBBS agencies across East Tennessee to provide child and parent engagement events – virtual at first and eventually in-person – ensuring youth and families have access to economic and social supports. The engagement activities are more important now than ever before.”

“Our agency has long focused on delivering on outcomes for the youth we serve through a one-to-one mentor,” said BBBS Greater Chattanooga CEO Jessica Whatley. “This grant allows our team to expand our parental efforts to include trainings on parenting, family literacy, and more – allowing us to offer training and individualized services and to better engage, listen, and incorporate the voices of families. Once we are able to engage with our parents and guardians in-person, we look forward to the support network they will form through these trainings.”

TDHS launched the 2Gen grant program in 2014 as part of its Two-Generation approach to addressing the needs of parents and children at the same time. The department has since awarded 2Gen grants to fund programs with more than 60 organizations and educational entities like Agape, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services.

Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at www.tn.gov/humanservices.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters defends potential in children through strong and enduring, professionally supported one‐to‐one relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Children enrolled in the program achieve measurable outcomes, including improved educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater self-confidence, and better relationships. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organizations’ decades-long history in Tennessee.

During the COVID-19 crisis – and every day – BBBS is committed to keeping kids connected through a supportive mentor and dedicated case workers. The agency goes one step further, linking both families and caregivers with critical services, serving those affected by food insecurity, loss of income, lack of healthcare, isolation, and anxiety due to COVID-19.

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2020 Holiday Party

NEW UPDATES FROM BBBS-ETN

KNOXVILLE, TN (November 20, 2020) Our annual Holiday Party is on! Please read the full details below as many details have changed and please note that RSVPs are required. Inquire with your Match Support Specialist for RSVP link.

Before we go into the fun stuff (presents, food, crafts, etc.), I do want to let you know that this year will look quite a bit different than our normal PJs and breakfast at the Crowne Plaza. In order to be safe and socially distanced, we are making a number of adjustments, outlined below.

Safety Precautions
This year’s safety precautions will include:
• The Holiday Party will take place outdoors.
• We’re still working on details regarding food, crafts, etc., but we can confirm that the party will be contactless with stations for picking up items. (Unlike previous years, we won’t have crafting tables, but Littles will be able to take home food/crafts.)
• Matches will be required to wear masks for the entirety of the event.
• All volunteers will be in masks and gloves.
• To ensure proper social distancing, attendance will be extremely limited.
• Finally, matches must sign up for a 30-minute time slot. (More details on that below!)

Event Overview
Now, on to the fun stuff. Our 2020 Holiday Celebration will take place on Sunday, Dec. 6, from 1-4 p.m. The venue has a great outdoor space where we can socially distance, utilize an open-air covered space in the event of inclement weather, and still celebrate the holidays BBBS-ETN style!

We’re planning to provide an individually wrapped snack and a craft, take photos of matches, and offer fun and festive events from the City of Knoxville that you and your Little can take part in safely.

How to Register
In order to limit crowds and to keep the event as safe as possible, Matches must register for a 30-minute timeslot. Please ask your Match Support Specialist for the RSVP link. We encourage you to sign up as soon as possible, as we are very limited in the amount of Bigs and Littles who we can accommodate.

Please note: In the past, we’ve allowed for Bigs to bring family members. This year, we prefer you only bring your Little in order to reduce the number of people in attendance. That said, if you would like to inquire about additional guests, please email or call me directly.

Gifts for Littles
Gifts will also look a bit different in 2020. In order to maintain the flow of the event and to ensure it remains contactless, we are planning to distribute gift cards to downtown businesses. (We hope to return to the great gift unwrapping next year!) On the bright side, if you feel comfortable doing so, this will allow you and your Little to extend the holiday fun and shop together after you leave the party.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Knox Pride, we’re planning for each Match to receive a gift card to one of the following local businesses: Mast General Store, Union Ave Books (appointment required to shop), or Bliss.

What to Bring
Since the event is outside, we encourage you and your Little to wear warm jackets and bundle up. Remember, you must be in a mask at all times, and you might want to bring an extra mask for your Little, just in case.

Plans are still in the works, but we hope to have individually packed snacks for you to enjoy on the lawn or after leaving the party. Speaking of this space, the lawn area is very large, so you might want to bring a chair or blanket to sit on after you’ve visited the stations.

Finally, if you don’t plan to attend this year, we’d love to see photos of your socially distanced holiday activities with matches – whether it be via Zoom, Facetime, or your Little’s front yard!

We know this year is going to look a little different, but we are happy that we’re able provide something festive during a difficult year for so many. We look forward to getting back in-person and indoors in the future.

Thank you so much for all you do! You all are incredible.

—Conner Patterson, Director of Match Support

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