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BBBS-ETN to make first-ever online matches during COVID-19 pandemic

NEW UPDATES FROM BBBS-ETN

KNOXVILLE, TN (April 29, 2020) Agency to match mentors with mentees online starting Wednesday, April 29.

In response to safer-at-home guidelines – and for the first time in its 50-year history – Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee will, this week, make its first-ever online Matches between mentors (Bigs) and mentees (Littles).

The programmatic change, resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, will also signify the first time in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s 115-year history that Match Meetings and Match activities are approved to take place fully online.

Match Meetings, which signify the first time a mentor meets his or her mentee, typically take place at a Little’s home or school.

BBBS-ETN’s first digital Match Meetings will occur between Big Sister Madison and Big Sister Carmen and Little Sisters Tashira and Kiara – who are also biological sisters – on Wednesday, April 29 and Friday, May 1.

Big Sister Madison, a program coordinator at a senior home care center, and her Little Sister Tashira say they look forward to participating in outdoor activities when they can meet in person. For now, they’ll focus on activities like virtual tours of parks and zoos, and they’ll take advantage of the resources and online activities BBBS-ETN has compiled for Bigs and Littles. Their Match Meeting will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, April 29, at 2pm.

Big Sister Carmen, a medical assistant in Blount County, and her Little Sister Kiara both enjoy being active and say they look forward to painting their nails together. After their Zoom Match meeting on Friday, May 1, at 3:15pm, the pair plans to hold nail-painting sessions via FaceTime.

The sisters’ mom, Ty — who also serves in the healthcare industry — currently works remotely while homeschooling Tashira and Kiara. She looks forward to the additional connections her daughters’ Big Sisters will bring during a time when they are out of school and isolated.

“Now, more than ever, it’s vital to keep kids connected—we couldn’t be more thrilled to innovate by making and supporting Matches digitally,” said BBBS-ETN CEO Brent Waugh. “The mission of BBBS-ETN is more urgent, and our impact is more evident than ever before—we will continue to match youth with mentors and to connect their families with essential needs like food, rent assistance, and behavioral health resources.”

Both Matches will meet in person once COVID-19-related restrictions are lifted.

Visuals:

• BBBS-ETN’s first-ever digital Match meetings are occurring via Zoom.

o Madison and Tashira: Wednesday, April 29, 2pm

o Carmen and Kiara: Friday, May 1, 3:15pm

• The BBBS-ETN team is working to make interviews available with Big Sisters and with the Littles Sisters’ mom, all who work in the healthcare industry.

• Members of the BBBS-ETN team will be on hand for interviews.

• Photos of the online Match Meeting will be on BBBS-ETN’s social media channels and website, TennesseeBig.org.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee defends potential in children through strong and enduring, professionally supported one‐to‐one relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Youth 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 organization’s 50-year history in the Knoxville area.

During the COVID-19 crisis – and every day – BBBS-ETN is committed to keeping kids connected through a supportive mentor and dedicated case workers. The agency goes one step further, connecting both families and caregivers with critical services, serving those affected by loss of income, food insecurity, lack of healthcare, isolation, and anxiety due to COVID-19. Learn more about ways you can join our cause at tennesseebig.org/get-involved.

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