Giving back to our Manchester community is a big part of CCA Global Partners overall mission. As such, beginning about eight years ago, CCA Global Partners joined forces with the Wilson Street School and the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Manchester to launch a satellite Big Brothers Big Sisters program at our office
Giving back to our Manchester community is a big part of CCA Global Partners overall mission. As such, beginning about eight years ago, CCA Global Partners joined forces with the Wilson Street School and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Hampshire program in Manchester to launch a satellite Big Brothers Big Sisters program at our office. With this program, CCA staff had the opportunity to become mentors for kids ages first through fifth grade, giving them opportunities to explore the cooperative workplace and the Manchester community as a whole.
Michelle O’Brien, a business consultant for the International Design Guild, played a key role in getting the Big Brothers Big Sisters program underway at the Manchester office. From organizing afterschool crafts to coordinating with the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Michelle managed quite a successful launch, helping to bridge the gap between the school, the families and the program.
“We always try to make it so that we are in partnership with the school and the family and Big Brother Big Sister —that way it was kind of full circle,” she explained. “We wanted everyone to feel that we were all working together in this to do good for the kids.”
The Big Brothers Big Sisters program took care of the entire matching process, assigning CCA Bigs to Littles in their elementary school years. Littles were nominated for the program by social workers, teachers and family members. At its height, the CCA Big Brothers Big Sisters program had 26 Bigs and 26 Littles, with a majority of them meeting in office on a bi-weekly basis.
After school, the kids would be dropped off at the Manchester office for an hour and half.
“I oversaw the entire program and had a little,” Michelle said. “I would make sure that we had a craft activity every day and we would always enjoy a nutritious a snack.”
Before the kids went home for the day, their Bigs would assist them to grab a backpack buddy to take home which included a gallon-sized Ziploc bag full of fresh fruits, vegetables and to-go snacks. According to Michelle, this backpack buddy idea came about after some of the Bigs realized that the snacks they provided afterschool were sometimes the last meal the kids had in a day.
“We noticed and recognized that very early on and implemented backpack buddies to send them home with a couple days’ worth of extra snacks to have,” Michelle explained.
In addition to the after-school program, CCA has provided to the Little’s and their family the necessities needed to cook a full Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner. 2020 was the first time in eight years that the CCA Big Brothers Big Sisters program wasn’t able to provide a Thanksgiving dinner due to pandemic health-code restrictions and complicated guidelines.
“It was weird not doing it because I've always gone and done all the grocery shopping for it and put together all these packages and it was always so fun,” Michelle said. “That's been a big highlight of the program and just giving back to those families as well.”
As the pandemic has stretched on, many Bigs and Littles resorted to video conference meetings, using platforms like Zoom and WebEx to stay connected in place of their bi-weekly visits to CCA.
“Keeping that consistency in their lives [is important] because so much has been so inconsistent especially school schedules,” Michelle explained.
While we’re lucky to live in the age of technology, Michelle does hope that things will return to normal soon so that they can invite the littles back into the office for fun craft and snack times once again.
“I hope that at some point we can get back to having the littles back in the office. Just under current state guidelines, I'm not sure that that's going to be an immediate,” Michelle said. “But our staff does have the opportunity to be community matched if that's something that they're interested in doing and right now they're still able to do Zoom meetings and WebEx meetings and connect that way.”
In one of her fondest memories of being a part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, Michelle describes being interviewed alongside her little by the New Hampshire Charitable Organization for their magazine.
“They interviewed my little and I and put us in a magazine in New Hampshire...it was just great to have that experience to have my little be questioned in an interview situation and then have a photo done and then be able to say look we made it into the magazine,” Michelle said. “That for her was so over the top exciting and for me too because it brought so much joy to her.”