By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – When Jeffrey Chin of Shrewsbury began as chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Central Mass/Metrowest in January 2013, it was the beginning of the agency's 50th anniversary. The milestone was observed at Mechanics Halls in Worcester by raising funds with “The Golden Gala – Celebrating 50 Years of Making a Big Difference.”
This year's major fundraiser is “The Big Celebration” scheduled for Saturday, May 31, 6 p.m., at the Collings Foundation Aviation Museum in Stow. Chin appreciates the event's uplifting theme: “Help Kids Soar.”
“In order to allow kids to soar in terms of their development, we need the funds and resources to pair them with mentors,” he said. “One way people can help us to do that is by supporting this event.”
Chin began a relationship with BBBS during his nine years as executive director of Shrewsbury Youth & Family Services (SYFS). The agencies occasionally collaborated with referrals when Shrewsbury youth were in need of mentors. Joining BBBS, Chin welcomed the opportunity to serve over 40 communities.
“It was a real eye-opener when I started last year,” he shared. “The agency began modestly in 1963 serving seven at-risk boys in Worcester, to now serving over 1,200 at-risk children around the central Massachusetts and Metrowest region.”
Bigs and Littles are matched through community- or site-based programs. The community-based pairings meet at various spots such a library, park or sporting event. Among the area locations for site-based matches are the CHAPS program in Hudson, the Pleasant Street Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Clubs of MetroWest in Marlborough, and Mill Pond School in Westborough.
In addition to individual volunteers, mentoring organizations include students from Hudson and Marlborough high schools, and employees of Avidia Bank, Bose, Intel, Staples, the TJX Companies and other businesses.
Chin credits much of the agency's success to volunteers” ongoing support.
“Having these volunteers serve as mentors is really the backbone of our organization; it's who we are as agency,” he said. “Their support as a resource for mentors, and also financial and in-kind support, has allowed our nonprofit agency to flourish and serve as many kids as we do.”
A number of businesses and community volunteers are helping with “The Big Celebration.” Guests will sample international cuisine, desserts, wine and beer from over 10 restaurants as live musical entertainment is provided.
Stow resident Jeremy Reiner, WHDH-TV's meteorologist, will emcee the evening. Greg Hill, host of “The Hill-Man Morning Show” on WAAF 97.7/107.3, will serve as auctioneer. Among the items for silent and live auctions are artwork, getaways, restaurant gift certificates, tickets for sporting events including the Red Sox, and tickets for a live concert featuring Aerosmith.
Also that evening, BBBS will present the Bob Cousy Most Valuable Partner Award to the TJX Companies. The Celtics legend is a founding member of the agency. This is the first of what will be an annual honor.
“The TJX Companies has been one of our really big corporate partners for many years,” Chin said. “They support us financially and also supply dozens of Bigs to meet with our Littles.”
Perhaps the evening's main attraction is its setting, Chin noted.
“The Collings Foundation is a really unique venue, where we'sl be surrounded by World War II airplanes and vintage automobiles,” he said. “Because it's in an aviation museum, the acoustics will be incredible for some of the entertainment features. It's promising to be a unique and fun evening for our guests to make sure that we can sustain our programs.”
For more information about BBBS and to purchase tickets online for “The Big Celebration,” visit bbbscm.org.