News and Events
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County is honored to celebrate Alexa Zappia as our first Women Who Move the City Wednesday (WWMTC) Honoree! Alexa, a native of Williamsville, is currently a senior at St. John Fisher College in Rochester. In 2009, Alexa faced tragedy when her life mentor, Susan Wehle, suddenly passed away in the Flight 3407 plane crash. Alexa wanted to do something that would make her proud by continuing to touch peoples’ lives as Susan touched hers. How does a 12-year-old grieve such a tragedy? To Alexa, she found her life’s purpose: to volunteer at struggling organizations within the Buffalo community. Since the plane crash, Alexa has accumulated over 3,000 volunteer hours. Alexa has received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for three consecutive years during Barack Obama’s term, St. John Fisher College’s Service Scholarship, The Network of Religious Communities Religious Service Award, and many other accolades for her community service work throughout the years.
In the past year, Alexa created an organization originating in Buffalo known as Rocks of Unity™. Rocks of Unity™ uses dialogue and art to teach, empower, and advocate inclusivity. Alexa has grown Rocks of Unity from one school here in Buffalo to over 18 different countries and over 25 different states. Through Rocks of Unity™, individuals will gain a heightened awareness of the importance of ending the prominent issue of hate by spreading kindness, acceptance, unity, and strength in diversity. Participants in the workshops learn how to better understand each other, ultimately building stronger communities. Alexa has grown Rocks of Unity™ on social media as well where she writes Daily Doses of Kindness to promote positivity to global audiences.
Alexa has been on the Dean’s List every semester since her freshman year. As a prestigious St. John Fisher College Service Scholar, she also completes 200 hours of community service yearly in the Rochester community at high-needs agencies. Alexa, who shared that family is the most important aspect of her life, also regularly practices yoga and enjoys musical theater and Broadway.
To celebrate with Alexa and our four other outstanding Women Who Move the City Honorees on Wednesday, May 2nd at the Hotel Lafayette, click here to learn more & purchase your tickets today!
For Immediate Release
Buffalo, N.Y. – The local mentoring agency known as Be-A-Friend Program, Inc. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County for the last 45+ years is growing and has changed its name to reflect the new service area approved by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA). The agency will now be known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier. BBBSA has designated the Southern Tier service area to include Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. In recent years, the agency had expanded it services through partnerships with the Lewiston Porter School District and Seneca Nation.
“We are excited to have the support of our National office as we expand to bring the nationally recognized mentoring programs of Big Brothers Big Sisters to more children in the Western New York region,” shared Thomas Guagliardo, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie, Niagara and the Southern Tier. “We are committed to continuing the high quality mentoring services we currently provide in Erie County as we expand in these new areas.”
In addition to the organization’s name change, the agency has recently moved their office located at 85 River Rock Drive in Buffalo across the street to 100 River Rock Drive between Fowler’s Chocolates and the new Crisis Services office. Over the next several weeks, the agency will begin to officially transfer its signage, social media and other external materials to reflect the new name, office location and logo.
Big Brothers Big Sisters currently offers Community Based, Sited Based, High School Bigs and Group Mentoring programs to children between the ages of 6 – 18 years old. Recently, the agency has seen a growth in interest in the High School Bigs Program which pairs elementary/middle school students with high school students who serve as their mentors. This program, which currently operates in the Lewiston Porter, Cleveland Hill, Maryvale and Lackawanna districts, demonstrates positive impact in youth outcomes for both the child being mentored and the high school student volunteering as the mentor. Additionally, the need for Group Mentoring, which typically provides mentoring to older youth and is provided by an agency staff member with the training to provide a more extensive and focused mentoring opportunity based on the youth’s needs as identified by other service providers has grown.
“We see the High School Bigs and Group Mentoring programs as effective and successful resources to bring into new service communities in need” shared Guagliardo. “We have been meeting with stakeholders in these communities to pursue partnerships and funding opportunities to launch these programs and expand our presence in Western New York.”
Do you know a woman who is making a BIG difference in our community? We are currently seeking nominations of outstanding women serving as volunteers throughout WNY for our 2018 Women Who Move the City Honorees. For more information and to submit a nomination, click here. Nominations are due by Wednesday, February 14th at 5pm.
Celebrate the 2018 Women Who Move the City Honorees with an evening filled with networking, one of a kind shopping from a variety of local vendors, food and drinks!
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Hotel Lafayette, Buffalo, NY
Early Bird tickets are only $40 (purchase before April 15th)! To purchase your ticket online – click here or reserve your ticket by calling (716) 873-5833, ext. 245.
For more information about the event, or to become an event sponsor, click here or contact Alicia at email@example.com or (716) 873-5833, ext.243.
Women Who Move the City recognizes Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County’s female volunteers, as well as women who volunteer throughout the Western New York Area. This is a night to celebrate these women who are positively impacting lives of others and making a difference in our community. It is also an evening to enjoy a one of a kind shopping experience, demonstrations and food tastings from local businesses. You will also have a chance to meet other people who are volunteering their time to make our community thrive!
We are excited to celebrate our current Big & Little mentoring relationships during January and recruit new mentors to make a difference in the lives of children facing adversity. A mentor really can make a BIG impact. At the conclusion of the 2016-2017 school year, 992% of the children in a match with a Big Brother or Big Sister were promoted to the next grade level. Additionally, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County’s(BBBSEC) program outcomes indicated that these children maintained or showed improvement in their attitude towards avoiding risky behaviors and maintained or improved positive feelings regarding their ability to achieve future educational outcomes. It’s amazing what can happen when someone gives consistently just a few hours each month as a Big!
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County offers two mentoring options for getting involved as a Big Brother or Big Sister. There are also other opportunities for supporting BBBSEC’s mentoring programs. To learn more about National Mentoring Month and how you can get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County, click here.
Our 2017 Art of Friendship Note Cards are printed & ready to purchase! Each set has 5 cards and 100% of the $5.00 purchase price benefits BBBS of Erie County! You can purchase at any of Fowler’s Chocolates six retail shops located in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, East Aurora, Hamburg and Tonawanda. They make a wonderful holiday gift for family, friends, teachers, neighbors or a host/hostess!
The Art of Friendship is generously sponsored by Ingram Micro.
Our Annual Big Give campaign is underway! This is your chance between now and November 28th to help us raise $6,250 to support our one-to-one mentoring programs By giving to one of our Big Brother or Big Sister BIG Give Fundraisers or by giving to the general BIG Give page, you can help create a new match! To learn more, click here. A BIG thanks!