Highlands and Cashiers merge Big Brothers Big Sisters programs

Chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC in Highlands and Cashiers recently merged to better serve the children and families on the Plateau.

Big Brothers Big Sisters had a Halloween themed event on Oct. 24 at The Village Green. One of the first events held after the two programs merged.

One of the first events held after the merger was a Halloween themed party at The Village Green last month in collaboration with The Bascom that included costumes, painting pumpkins, and a scavenger hunt.

Danielle Hernandez, BBBS Cashiers & Highlands Program Coordinator, said the merger allows for the collaboration of services and resources focused on the community as a whole.

Little Sister Kayla rocking a Mary Poppins costume on Oct. 24 at The Village Green.

“This had been long debated for quite some time; however, decisions leading to this merger since my being Program Coordinator came as a result of being so close in proximity, the benefit of efficiency in serving the children and families across the entire Plateau, and bridging the divide between Cashiers and Highlands in terms of services and sense of community,” said Hernandez.

Little Brother Hudson making the final touches on his Pennywise pumpkin.

Hernandez was the Program Coordinator for both programs before the merger and coordinated with two different advisory boards. She said combining programs and their advisory councils makes her efforts more efficient.

“Honestly, this is perfect in terms of making this position far more efficient,” said Hernandez. “Rather than spending additional administration time running two councils, two programs, two of everything, we are able to run smoothly as one. The efficiency allows me to spend more time where it’s needed most, building the program and providing supports for children, families and matches already established.”

BBBS painted pumpkins and held a Halloween scavenger hunt on Oct. 24 at The Village Green.

She added that combining advisory councils will help make BBBS stronger as an organization.

“I’m incredibly thrilled to work with such movers and shakers as those who are on these combined councils,” said Hernandez. “The council leaders, Nancy Albers and Ricky Seigel, complement one another so well and the cohesiveness of this new team approach will only grow stronger, creating a more profound impact for those we serve – the children and families of the Plateau community.”

From left are Rick Seigel, Danielle Hernandez, and Nancy Albers at The Village Green.

Rick Seigel began the Highlands chapter of BBBS in 2002 after participating in a Leadership Highlands class in 2001 and saw there was a need in the area.

“There was nothing really focused on kids who are facing significant life challenges,” said Seigel. “Someone who may need an extra helping hand, a mentor, or someone to talk to. BBBs is another ear for a child to speak to.”

Big Sister Karla proudly displays her artistic pumpkin-painting skills with Little Nemo.

He said the merger of the Highlands and Cashiers chapters of BBBS was a step in the right direction.

“We’re 11 miles apart and we’re both working towards the same thing,” said Seigel. “Combining the advisory councils will be twice the number of thinking brains working on recruitment, funding, and publicity. You’re doubling your brainpower.”

For more information about BBBS of WNC click HERE.

Pictured at the top of the article is Little Sister Kira at a BBBS Halloween themed event at The Village Green on Oct. 24.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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