Tampa Bay Philanthropy Week, celebrated Monday, November 9th – Friday, November 13th, is an opportunity to celebrate philanthropists who have demonstrated innovation, resiliency, leadership, and generosity through this difficult year. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay is grateful for the support of so many volunteers, staff, and donors. We want to highlight just a few of the amazing people we have on our team to say “thank you” for their dedication to the Big Brothers Big Sisters mission throughout this difficult year.
Heather Castle, Director of Activities & Trainings at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay
If you are a Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, Heather is the first person you will meet. Heather trains all of our volunteers at our Big Orientation & Training sessions, so they are prepared to become mentors to youth in our community. When she’s not training our fantastic volunteers, she’s setting up and hosting match events for our Bigs & Littles to attend. Her favorite memory was when she hosted a match event with Dr. Jen Arnold from The Little Couple on TLC. “I had a Little come up to me and tell me ‘Miss Heather, I like you! I hope I can be just like you when I grow up. You make a lot of people happy, and I want to do the same.’ That seriously touched my life.”
Throughout the pandemic, Heather has remained resilient. She is more dedicated than ever to training our volunteers and keeping our matches connected. Within days of state-wide shutdowns, Heather ultimately refocused her work to train volunteers through an online Virtual Big Orientation & Training. Many Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations across the country came to watch Heather’s volunteer orientations to learn how to continue their mission virtually in their communities.
Heather has also hosted several virtual events for our matches, from movie nights and costume contests to workout classes and art demonstrations. She has found a virtual activity for everyone to enjoy, hosting three to five events each month so matches can stay connected with each other.
Big Sister Treena
Big Sister Treena and Little Sister La’riyah have been matched with Big Brothers Big Sisters since October of 2019. Within just a few months of being matched, they had to stop in-person visits due to COVID. But Treena did not let this stop her from staying connected with La’riyah. They have still been able to create memory books for each other, and Treena helps La’riyah with her schoolwork. Treena encourages La’riyah to pursue her passion for singing and dancing. La’riyah will often put on virtual performances for Treena.
Treena tackled the challenge of staying connected with her Little even when they could not see each other in-person. They have started going out together again, but things look a bit different with masks and social distancing, but Treena is determined to defend La’riyah’s potential.