Newsletter September 23

Big Brothers Big Sisters of CO on the National Stage!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon were recently recognized on a national platform for their leadership and effectiveness. In June the organization was presented with the prestigious Pinnacle Award during the national conference in southern California.  BBBSCO was one of only 8 programs selected for the achievement out of 225 agencies nationally.   Join us in giving their team a big round of applause.  Their exceptional work is allowing the agency to impact more youth than ever before. 

Summer Match Fun~

On August 25th at Al Moody Park, Big Brothers Big Sisters on Central Oregon (BBBSCO) brought together a community of over 150 people, including Littles and their families, as well as dedicated Bigs and their families. This day was all about celebrating the incredible impact of mentorship, as BBBSCO families united under the summer sun.

BBBSCO treated everyone to dinner and special treats, setting the stage for an event filled with connection and inspiration. Bend Fire and Rescue and the Bend Police Department joined us, creating an opportunity for our Littles to explore their dreams of firefighting and policing. The day was marked by discovery and excitement as young people learned from our local heroes.

This year’s Annual Back to School Picnic was a testament to potential that mentorship brings into the lives of children and their mentors. We thank everyone who participated and contributed to this unforgettable day, strengthening the bonds that make our community shine even brighter. Here’s to the power of mentorship and the promise of brighter futures for all our Littles!

Bigs and Littles enjoyed a day on Big Lake with In His Wakes. An opportunity for Bigs and Littles to learn how to Zupboard, tube and surf behind the boat. Over 25 Bigs and Littles joined the event! 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon organized an unforgettable adventure for their Bigs and Littles by partnering with Sun Country Tours for an exhilarating whitewater rafting experience. This event was designed to foster mentorship, bonding, and a sense of adventure among the participants while immersing them in the stunning natural beauty of the region. 

Region receives national recognition for its work addressing youth homelessness.

On September 20th, at J Bar J’s “Loft” shelter facility, a large group of prominent leaders, politicians, and organizations gathered to celebrate the awarding of a $950,000 grant from The US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The grant is awarded to the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council as collaborative applicant of the Homeless Leadership Coalition. The focus of this grant is for development of programs addressing youth homelessness.

J Bar J is the primary provider of services to runaway and homeless youth in our region. This tremendous achievement could not have happened without the efforts and commitment of J Bar J’s very own Eliza Wilson and Deirdre Kasberger. Supporting J Bar J not only helps keep vulnerable youth off the streets but also allows the organization to develop the strongest and most capable leaders in this industry.  

Celebrating Kathy O’Neal:

A Lifetime of Dedication to Cascade Youth & Family Center

At J Bar J Youth Services, few individuals leave a legacy as enduring as Kathy O’Neal. With her commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people, Kathy has been a cornerstone of Cascade Youth & Family Center (CYFC) for 28 years.

Kathy’s journey with CYFC began when she followed Deirdre Kasberger from The Children’s Farm Home to J Bar J. Stephanie Alvstad, the Program Manager at CYFC at the time, welcomed her into the CYFC family. From the moment she stepped through our doors, it was clear that Kathy’s role as the Administrative Assistant to the CYFC’s Basic Center was just the beginning of her impact.

Describing her role, Kathy joked, “I have a name tag, and the name on there is ‘Somebodywill Doit!’ I have worn many hats on the side and helped wherever was needed—LOFT, HR, Maintenance, Horse Show, billing, etc., because somebody needs to do it!” Kathy’s versatility and readiness to tackle challenges have been an invaluable asset.

Kathy’s belief in the mission of CYFC has been the driving force behind her decades of dedication. At the heart of our Basic Center Program lies crisis intervention, family mediation, and providing emergency shelter for youth in need. Kathy’s compassion and dedication have helped countless young people navigate through turbulent times, bringing them hope and support in their most vulnerable moments.

The work at CYFC is undeniably demanding, and Kathy’s insights from her long tenure are invaluable. When reflecting on her time here, she shared some wisdom for future staff, emphasizing the importance of patience. She remarked, “Staff need to know that if you’re expecting a thank you or success story or inspiration from a client, you may be waiting a long time.” Her words serve as a reminder that the impact of their work may not always be immediately apparent, but it is no less meaningful.

As we bid farewell to Kathy, we do so with deep gratitude for her decades of service to the youth in our program. Her teamwork and dedication have helped CYFC deescalate conflicts, equip families with improved communication skills and boundaries, and empower youth to build brighter futures.

When asked about her plans for retirement, Kathy left us with a glimpse into her future: “Family, lots of time with the grandsons, hunting, fishing, riding my pony, gardening, painting, traveling—any dang thing I want! Every day is Saturday!! Yahoo!!!!”  We thank Kathy for her immeasurable contributions and wish her all the happiness and adventure in this new chapter of her life.