Rider Highlight – Karen Boehnke


Long-time agency supporter and 6-term board member, Karen Boehnke, is “gearing up” to participate in her 7th consecutive Rodman Ride for Kids to benefit BBBS of Central Mass/Metrowest!

When asked why she chooses to ride each year, Karen responded, “the Rodman Ride is a fun way for me to give back (raise money!) and to also spread the word about BBBS (plus, the training and exercise helps keep me in shape!).  Each year I solicit donations from my family, friends, and co-workers.  I’m very proud, honored, and grateful for their continued support – seven years in a row!   Also, my employer, Genzyme, has been fantastic in supporting BBBS with matching donations for The Ride.”

Karen herself was a Big Sister for five years and found the experience to be incredibly rewarding.  According to Karen, “being involved with BBBS enriched my life in many ways – it gave me an opportunity to share my life with a young person, in the hopes that she would have a better chance at a successful future.   It can be challenging being a Big – but it’s those challenges that made me stronger and more understanding of how difficult life can be for at-risk children.   My hope is that my time spent as a Big Sister will have made a difference in a young girl’s life.”

Karen was also the recipient of the 2013 Dr. H. Martin Deranian Fellowship Award.  The award is given to an individual mentor or group of mentors who go above and beyond the expectations set by the agency and have made a long-term commitment to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest.

Best of luck to Karen on September 20th at her 7th Rodman Ride for Kids!

To donate to Karen’s ride click here: https://rodman.fundraise.com/karen-boehnkes-rodman-ride-page

Rider Highlight: Doug Pereira

Doug Pereira Photo (2)Doug Pereira is a dedicated Big Brother and supporter  of the Rodman Ride for Kids. Going into his fourth year as a rider for Team Bose, Doug is looking forward to taking on the 50 mile ride to raise money for at-risk kids. When asked why he chooses to participate in the Rodman Ride he said,

“The biggest reason is to help support the BBBS program which is a great organization. I am a Big Brother and see firsthand how the funds raised can help at-risk kids!”

He also mentions, though, that Doug Pereira 2there are many other reasons to get involved: “lots of fun, meeting new people, and the celebration afterwards, to name a few.” While the 50-mile ride is certainly challenging, Doug says that the team spirit of the event makes it a bit easier. He holds that, “knowing that we are all there for a common cause,” is his favorite part of the Ride. “The idea of companies/teams joining forces helps me mentally and physically on the 50 mile ride.”

Good luck Doug, and we look forward to seeing you at this year’s Rodman Ride for Kids!

Click here to donate to Doug’s Ride! https://rodman.fundraise.com/douglas-pereiras-rodman-ride-page


Aidan’s Essay


When Aidan asked his Big, who he has been matched with since February, to come to his school’s concert/open house he was pleased to go. What he received upon arriving, though, would thrill any Big. Aidan had written an essay about a day that they had spent together. Clearly Aidan had a wonderful time. That same night Aidan’s teacher also pulled his Big aside to tell him that Aidan’s attitude had been improving in school even in the short while they have been matched. #mentoring matter

Click here to read Aidan’s entire essay: Aidan’s_Essay



Designing Dreams: Barbara and Mali

The Big Brother-Big Sister of South Middlesex, Inc.(now part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest) matched Mali McKinney and me, Barbara Callan-Bogia, on June 12, 1998. I was married, had my own a management consultant business and wanted to help make a difference in a young girl’s life, if possible.

Mali and Barb in 2000 visiting Jordan’s Furniture where we had a photo booth picture taken of us.

Mali and Barb in 2000 visiting Jordan’s Furniture where we had a photo booth picture taken of us.

Mali was just 8 years old. Our first year together was one of getting to know each other as we went to the movies, museums, baked cookies, went on picnics, etc.

Mali and I focused on reading chapter books and the next year Mali was the most improved reader in her class. After reading “Little Women” we then visited Louisa May Alcott’s’ house.

All of us have been told that matches of Big’s and Little’s usually last only a year, maybe two. It’s been an amazing adventure for Mali and me that continues to this day, 16 years later!

Through the years, Mali became a restaurant critic rating the restaurant on their friendliness of staff, quality of food, and bathroom cleanliness. Her ratings were tough from an A+ to an F!
In high school during Mali’s freshman year winter vacation in April 2005, I offered to take a day off and we would go anyplace she’d like to go for the day. To my amazement, Mali asked if we could go to college for the day, as she wanted to see what it was like. Even as a freshman in high school Mali wanted to go to college for fashion design even though her friends made fun of her as they could not understand why she would want to go to college.

I was lucky when I called the Consumer Science Chair, Dr. Luoto, at Framingham State College and explained who I was and what my “Little Sister” wanted to do. Well, Dr. Luoto and her assistant Alex were terrific! They set Mali and me up with a half-day of activities. They were very impressed that a 9th grader was already thinking ahead to college. We attended a class, were given a private tour of the fashion collection, talked with students, and then had a very good talk with Dr. Irene Foster who was the Assistant Professor of Clothing and Textiles at the time.
When Mali was 16, she asked me what would happen when she turned 18, as she would then transition out of the Big Brother – Big Sister program. My response was, “What do you want to have happen?” Her answer was that she didn’t want us to stop hanging out together and stop being friends. I said, “Great, because I don’t want to stop either, so we won’t.”
Mali did well in high school and started working when she was 16. She has worked at David’s Bridal for over six years now.

Barbies 60th_38My work changed and I moved to Boynton Beach, FL in 2006 which was very upsetting to Mali and me. We all know how distance can break the bonds that tie you. I was determined that Mali and I would stay close despite the move. So, guess what destination Mali had her first airplane ride to all by herself? You bet she flew down to visit with me and my husband. She’s been back to see our new home and learn more about Florida.

Mali was accepted to several colleges; however, since she did not receive enough financial aid she attended Middlesex Community College for two years and then transferred to Framingham State.

Paris Dress

Mali’s designer dress on display at Natick Mall.

While at Framingham State University (from which she will soon graduate), Mali applied to attend the Paris American Academy in Paris, France for a month-long intensive Couture Techniques Workshop. With help from her Big Sister and friends, Mali was off to Paris in July 2012! She thoroughly enjoyed her time there and learned to make a designer dress, hats and more. She also worked behind the scenes helping models for the Paris Women’s Fashion Week! How cool is that?

Fast-forward to May 18, 2014…..Mali McKinney will fulfill her long-awaited dream and graduate from college. She will be receiving a Bachelors Degree in Fashion Design. And, if can you believe this, Dr. Foster was Mali’s Professor for one of her classes this last semester.

When I tell people something about Mali, they often say what a great thing I have done. Actually, I believe it’s the other way around. Mali has given so much love, laughter and knowledge to me that I would never had experienced if it were not for her. Thank you so much, Miss Mali! I can’t wait to see what the next 16 years hold for you and me.

mali and barb-graduation

Match Highlight: Allen and Brian (+Tom and Peter)

Allen is a lucky Little Brother. He not only has his official Big Brother, Brian, but Brian’s sons Tom and Peter to serve as mentors as well. Peter was formerly Allen’s Big, but when a job opportunity sent him to Los Angeles, Brian, who had gotten to Allen quite well, decided to step up and serve as his mentor. Peter had taught Allen to ride a bike and they enjoyed much time together playing basketball and football. The two still speak on the phone weekly and when Peter came to visit his family for the Fourth of July he made sure to bring a t-shirt back from LA for Allen.

Brian, Tom, AllenToday Allen spends most of his time with Brian and his son Tom. As stated by Brian the three, “do almost everything together”. They regularly go fishing, Allen’s favorite activity, and they are still involved in many sports. For Allen’s birthday Brian, Peter, and Tom split the cost of swimming lessons for Allen, and the group attended a sports camp so that Allen, a promising athlete, could be exposed to a variety of sports. They have also taken it one step further by joining a gym together. Allen is paying the $10 gym membership himself, the money for which he earns by mowing Brian’s lawn throughout the summer. The group not only has a talent for sports, however. They have also cooked some delicious meals for Allen’s mother, Laura, ranging from pies at Thanksgiving to chicken parm on Mother’s Day. There’s no doubt this is a wonderful match. On a recent drive Allen asked Brian, “If Peter comes home can he still hang out with you and Tom,” to which Brian responded, “of course (;) you have three Big Brothers”!

Pet Photo Frenzy!


Throughout the month of July we want your favorite photos of you and your pets! At the end of the month we will have a drawing for all who participate in which we will give away 2 gift baskets (1 to a dog owner, 1 to a cat owner) each worth nearly $100 to be shared with your furry friends! There are many ways to gain entries! Here’s how:

  • 3 entries: for a photo of your match (both Big and Little) with your pet (post it on our Facebook page (Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest) and use the hashtag #bbbscmpetphotofrenzy, Tweet it at us (@bbbs_cmmw) with the hashtag #bbbscmpetphotofrenzy, and/or email it to marketing@bbbscm.org
  • 2 entries: for a photo you and your pet (on Facebook, Twitter, and/or email as listed above
  • 1 entry: For each “Like” and/or “Share” you receive on a pet photo you’ve posted to our Facebook page as well as each time someone “favorites” or “retweets” your photo on Twitter

We can’t wait to see your funny, crazy, and adorable pet photos and look forward to giving away our awesome gift baskets to two lucky winners!

dog basket cat basket


Quality Award Recipients!


Quality Award Recipients!

We are honored to have been one of just a handful of agencies nationwide to receive the Quality Award at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America conference last week. Thank you to all of our volunteers, partners, and donors for making this award possible!

A Match with Two Role Models, an Essay by Bethanne Bartscherer


Bethanne, Holy Cross student and Big Sister

I decided to join Big Brothers Big Sisters for the simple reason that I grew up as an only child who always wanted a sibling. As I started volunteering once a week for Big Brothers Big Sisters at a site called Girl’s Inc.*, Brianna (my Little Sister) and I studied fractions and nail painting, computer games and chapter books. At first, volunteering as a Big was exactly what I had anticipated: Brianna and I got along right away, and I believed that I was making some difference in her life. We shared a love of science, a similar sense of humor, and Brianna reminded me of myself at her age. Over time, I began to understand that I might have gotten as much out of the experience as Brianna, and visiting my Little each Thursday afternoon soon became a highlight of my week. Over the summer, Brianna and I exchanged emails and letters, and while I missed seeing her in person each week, receiving mail from Brianna made every day a bit brighter. Nevertheless, it was not until my first Field Day, during which all Littles spend an afternoon at my college, Holy Cross, with their older siblings, that I fully understood the impact of the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. I will never forget Brianna’s wide-eyed look of awe as she asked where the science experiments happened and rushed into the main library. For the first time, I saw the beautiful architecture that I hurry past each morning and the seemingly limitless opportunities at Holy Cross through Brianna’s eyes. As her face lit up, and Brianna exclaimed, “This is where I want to go college” I understood my own potential in impacting Brianna’s life. While I had known that helping Brianna with homework was important, as her hearing-impaired single mother often was not able to help her, it was during Field Day that I realized how Brianna’s future success is intricately tied to her role models and education today.

holding hands 1After working with Brianna for a few years, I have come to appreciate why Big Brothers, Big Sisters is such a popular and successful program. Brianna just celebrated her tenth birthday, and it has been such a wonderful experience being her Big Sister for the past three years. From the beginning, it has been evident how vital Brianna’s education is for her success, and how my own role in encouraging her to work hard in school can have lasting impacts. However, Brianna has had a tremendous impact on my own education as well. As an aspiring physician, I came into college with the expectation that these four years would simply be a stepping-stone of science classes before medical school. Thankfully, my time with Brianna has allowed me to see college as four fleeting years of opportunity to have incredible experiences and meet wonderful people. Each hour that I spend helping Brianna with long division or exchanging friendship bracelets reminds me that I can no longer view social justice issues abstractly. Volunteering as a Big has made me not only want to come back each week, but also do more to address the causes of the inequality I see. I hope that in the future I am able to not only volunteer my time, but also become a part of feasible solutions to issues such as poverty. These lessons have fundamentally changed my education, and I feel so privileged to have learned them while swapping stories and jokes with my little sister Brianna. In this way, I have been a positive role model for Brianna, but she has also been an influential role model for me.

*Each week Holy Cross students such as Bethanne volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters at many different site-based programs including Girls Inc. This is set up through Holy Cross’ SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development) Program which works to create a positive change in the community that the College calls home.