WE BELIEVE BLACK LIVES MATTER
STATEMENTS FROM BBBSSA STAFF
"In addition to so many others, we mourn the recent wrongful deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Inequitable treatment and violence of any kind, but especially violence against black and brown people harms our Big Brother Big Sisters of South Alabama community and our community at large. We at Big Brothers Big Sisters stand with our employees, families, volunteers and partners in the fight against systemic racism and injustice. My conviction is a shared conviction of our entire team and that is that black and brown lives matter. My humility comes from the fact that I recognize that I cannot fully understand the pain and suffering felt by so many as a white woman, despite being a mother, friend and neighbor who loves and values deeply many black and brown people in our community.
I'm grateful to be surrounded by board members and a staff team who take pride in our mission to ignite the power and promise of all youth. We are not blind to the realities of systemic racism that disproportionately impacts people of color. We are committed to doing our part to build bridges and remove barriers. We see differences as strengths that make each person unique and valuable to our community. We believe everyone deserves the right to a live a life free from discrimination. It has also always been our belief that through collective, purpose driven action the power of meaningful relationships results in a better world for us all. We embrace the uncomfortable conversations that we know are necessary to help us learn and grow as we further the movement to support black and brown lives.
We acknowledge there is a tremendous amount of work to be done, but on behalf of our Board of Directors and staff, we pledge to listen to our families, to keep learning and do our part to help build the cultural competency of our staff team, volunteers, participants and community at large so that together we can benefit from living in a community that is equitable, respectful and full of opportunity for all." -Aimee Risser, CEO and President
"This is a time when our actions must back our words and our words must be clear. Our Future is watching. What will our actions say to them? Are we standing with what is right? Are our own personal biases shaping what "right" looks like? It is time to take a look at those biases and acknowledge that we all have them. But operating in them may not be okay. It is time for deep introspection. Let the first change begin within. Be willing to let go of some of the "isms" that have been ingrained to hear the heart of someone who doesn't look like you. Take the discomfort of the confrontation that "I may have been wrong about this" and use it as a catalyst to transform yourself first, then the experience of those around you, then, our world." -Alecia Johnson, Match Specialist
"Our mission is to 'create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.' That's only possible if we embrace our differences and see them as strengths. We must stand up against anything that does not empower and strengthen today's youth because they are our future leaders and we need to grow as a nation." -Beth Springle, Match Specialist
"We're here with open arms and open hearts with the mission to be the change we seek in the world" -Pamela Mohandessi, Match Specialist
"We find ourselves where we have truly always been...the front lines. The front lines of racial bias and of systematic oppression. But now, more than ever, the families we serve need to know exactly whose corner we are in and exactly where we stand. Our Littles need to know that we are not only 'defenders of potential', but defenders of the present. Though we cannot undo the scourge of racism, we can enact change in the lives of our Littles to ensure that they live to see a day of true reconciliation and equity. There is hope in our future, right now, and the families we serve need to see it in you." -Ian Bicko, Match Specialist
"I support all the mentoring relationships within the agency with an open heart and mind, hopeful that everyone is ignited through their full potential of this program. Everyday, I feel we are given an opportunity, when we wake up, as to how we can make a difference, impact someone’s life, lift our voices in unity and equality for ALL in our community. We create a ripple effect. My small ripple is to continue to support those who we serve within our community and stand up to injustice when seen along with the inequities and racism. Saying nothing is doing nothing! Remembering that standing against these things takes courage and inner strength along with the ability to empower yourself. That alone can inspire others. Using your voice you can ignite others around you to do the same. Promoting a positive change in your community, your state, even the country... Black Lives DO Matter." -Cindy Rathle, Match Specialist
"We will speak out. We will stand together. We must work together to dismantle a social and judicial system that has placed our brothers and sisters in harm's way just for the color of their skin. We must willingly acknowledge the work that MUST be done to eradicate racism in all its public spaces and its hiding places. Black Lives Matter." -Luann Crawford, Match Specialist
"Black lives matter. At BBBS of South Alabama we will keep learning and listening as we strive to defend the potential of our community's youth. We are committed to justice and will continue to take action to ensure that all of our children are able to reach their highest possible futures. We plan to participate in and offer more training and discussion about race, systemic racism and privilege, particularly through the lens of mentoring. As Merridith Crowe wrote recently, 'Certainly, our collective responsibility requires much more than learning to THINK DIFFERENTLY, but listening and learning are ALWAYS the critical FIRST STEPS.' " -Katherine Wildberger, Director of Development and Marketing