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A podcast about positive things happening in and around Washington County, Wisconsin

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County with Jessica Barlament

15MWF - Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz podcast cover art for Season 3, Episode 35 titled ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters with Jessica Barlament.’ The background includes names of various locations within Washington County, emphasizing the local focus of the podcast. A photo of Jessica Barlament, smiling and wearing glasses and a black top, is placed in the center.

This week on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz, I sit down with Jessica Barlament, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County. Jessica shares the impactful work of the organization, including the powerful mentorship programs that are changing the lives of at-risk youth in our community. We discuss their upcoming events like Golf for Kids’ Sake on June 7th and the new family-friendly Putt Putt Palooza on August 10th. Tune in to learn how you can support these initiatives and help make a positive difference in Washington County.

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    [00:00:00] Fuzz Martin: Howdy ho, neighbor. It’s me, Fuzz Martin, and this is Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz, a show about positive things happening in and around Washington County, Wisconsin. We are cruisin through May. I was recently in Las Vegas. Not real Las Vegas. I was in Lake Las Vegas. Which I actually enjoy more. I was at the hotel where the Kansas City Chiefs stayed for the Super Bowl earlier this year.

    It was the Westin. It’s a beautiful place. And if you’re following along, I’ve been training for a 5K. My sister and I are doing the Cream Puff 5K at the end of June at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. I’ve been doing pretty well. I’ve been training three times a week. It’s been going well. So they had a casual 5K at the conference that I was at, and I decided to give it a shot.

    I’ve never done it. I’ve been to the conference, I don’t know, seven times over the last ten years, and I’ve never done the 5K. So I decided to do it this year. We were all told there was a hill, using finger quotes, on Mile 2. So, first mile was good. It was a little dry, but it was good. Second mile, started, turned a corner, slight incline.

    I was like, what? Scott, you kind of oversold this hill, bud. And then I turned another corner, and it went straight up. Like, 200 feet, straight up. I was dying. But I didn’t stop! And I got to the top, and then I saw the house Travis Kelce reportedly had rented for Taylor Swift. And then I jogged back down to the hotel.

    3. 02 miles. So there we go. I jogged the whole way, didn’t stop. Thank you. Applaud. Thank you. Thank you very much. Uh, I felt accomplished, actually. That was the first time I’d ever ran a whole three miles without stopping, uh, in my Adulthood, and I felt good about it. I’ve since done it again. So there we go.

    Anywho, we’re not here for that. We’re here to talk about Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Washington County. This week, Jessica Barlamont joins me to talk about a number of great things going on with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County, including Golf for Kids Sake and Putt Putt Palooza. And with that, here are 15 minutes on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County with Jessica Barlamont.

    On Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

    All right, Jessica, could you please start by telling us the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County?

    [00:02:48] Jessica Barlament: So our mission is to create and professionally support a one on one mentoring experience for at risk youth and to hopefully help them develop a potential. And, and experience what they can reach for in life.

    [00:03:04] Fuzz Martin: How does Big Brothers Big Sisters, with that mission, help to impact our local community? How does helping those who may be at risk, Impact the, the Biger community as a whole.

    [00:03:23] Jessica Barlament: So studies have shown that a child that has a mentor in their life is, um, able to avoid risky behaviors, have a higher graduation rate, and with that said, then they have a more positive impact on the community.

    They’re staying outta trouble. We also hope that through mentorship, they’re going to learn how to give back in their community by their mentor exposing them to new experiences and things that they can do to have a positive impact.

    [00:03:50] Fuzz Martin: Do you happen to have any success stories from Big Brothers, Big Sisters that has positively impacted both the big and the little here in Washington County?

    [00:04:02] Jessica Barlament: We have, yes, we have a current Big Sister, Little Sister. We actually refer to our mentor as Bigs and our mentees as Littles. So if I say Bigs and Littles, you’ll know which one I’m talking about. So the Big has introduced her Little to volunteering experiences. And the Little is now, through connection with our Program and Activities Director, Danny, at our office, recommended some volunteering at a daycare center because that’s where the Little is maybe interested in moving forward as a career.

    So, she volunteers at a daycare center and she’s also mentoring a child through her school district. Oh, wow. So, that’s been positive and the big, of course, it’s, it’s pride that you feel I can speak as a former big sister. Mm hmm. That you just love to see the accomplishments of what the, the little can do.

    You know, it’s, it’s kind of like your own kid when you’re, you know, Mentoring and you see them getting a job or doing something that maybe is outside their comfort zone. You know, it’s just that good feeling inside.

    [00:05:03] Fuzz Martin: Sure. We have, so for those listening, we record this at Epic Creative in West Bend. One of my employees, Natalie, she is a big, her, her little, she’s at the Milwaukee Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

    Her little, she does stuff with all of them. And, and Natalie, I think just turned 30, so she’s been with her for probably, Four or five years now, but she started as a young big, I would say, probably, in the grand scheme of things, but she is always glowing when she’s talking about her. Little and the things that they did together, and she’s watched, and she’s watched her, uh, you know, grow up and become a teenager and all those kind of things, and it’s the same way you lit up when you were speaking about your little, and she lights up when she speaks about hers.

    [00:05:49] Jessica Barlament: I always joke that my, my little’s like my third child by proxy.

    [00:05:53] Fuzz Martin: Sure, yeah,

    [00:05:54] Jessica Barlament: yeah. Because, I’m actually going to see my little next week, so I’m very excited, but went through a lot with her in our match, um, mom passed during our match. Um, but recently took a trip to Disney with my little and family, and then she’s at UWM in the medical field.

    Um, yeah, so just always checking in and, you know, she doesn’t have much time for me, but working two jobs and just really proud of the life that, you know, she’s leading right now.

    [00:06:22] Fuzz Martin: Excellent. To that, how do you measure the impact of how those mentoring programs go? Is there a way that, that you as an organization can measure that?

    [00:06:31] Jessica Barlament: Yes, so we have a match, match support specialist. Okay. Who supports our matches. Just exactly what their title says. Okay. So when a child is matched with a, a mentor, Then we are in contact with the child and their parent and the big.., Once a month for a year, Then we move it to quarterly.. if the match is doing well. so that match support specialist, is checking in on education, and development, activities things like that, besides monitoring the match that way in person we also do, a youth development plan with our matches.

    So, those are just goals that the little might feel they need to accomplish, and it can be something as easy, I want to learn how to knit. We don’t make it real difficult for them. Or I want to learn how to talk to people in public, or, so we review that annually with our matches. We also do surveys. We have a youth outcome survey.

    where they kind of do self reporting on school and risky behaviors, things like that. And then a strength of relationship survey that just kind of monitors how do they feel about their big. If there’s any red flags or, you know, low numbers, then our match support specialist will step in and just kind of see where the issue is.

    Hopefully we can work that out and, and help that match, give them suggestions on how to build a bit of a stronger relationship.

    [00:07:48] Fuzz Martin: So there’s some like science and actual like data involved in it. It’s not just, you know, work it out. It’s an actual measurement and, and adjustments. That’s great.

    [00:07:57] Jessica Barlament: Lots of tools.

    [00:07:58] Fuzz Martin: Yeah. That’s awesome. So. As Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County, what kind of challenges do you currently face as a non profit and an organization, and how can the community support you?

    [00:08:11] Jessica Barlament: Our Bigest challenge is lack of mentors. Um, we have about 20 kids on our waiting list. We are getting inquiries, you know, a couple times a week.

    For kids that are in need of a mentor. And our mentors, we take them as young as 16 years old. So if you’re a high school student and you’re in Key Club, Honor Club, or something where you need volunteer hours, then you know, this is a great way to do that, plus having a great impact on a child. We have a variety of matches.

    We can do a big brother, a big sister, a big couple, a big family. We have all different ways that you can spend time with the youth. And then besides that, we have community matches where you’re out and about doing things in the community. Our agency also offers free or low cost activities. So, we have tons of activities if you look on our calendar on our website for our matches.

    We have school based if you, and that’s how my match started out. It was just once a week I’d go to school and have lunch with my little.

    Play some games during recess, you know, and for me it was just to keep that consistency. fuzz. cc And then we have site based, we do partner with the Boys and Girls Club.

    So, if a child is there after school, you can go to the site and, you know, have some fun with the kid, play some games, shoot some buckets.

    [00:09:26] Fuzz Martin: So, from a commitment standpoint, for somebody who may be considering becoming a big, you have a varying level of commitment and like, lower barriers to entry for those who might want to Get started and see if it’s right for them all the way up to like that kind of Biger commitment, right?

    [00:09:46] Jessica Barlament: Right, right. So, and I’ll just talk about myself personally if that’s okay. Yeah, that’s great. Yeah, of course. I knew with two kids at home yet that I wasn’t sure if I could commit for our community match. We asked twice a month. For about four hours each time, but I always say it’s, you know, quality over quantity.

    So for me, I was afraid I wasn’t going to have that commitment level, so I did the school based because I knew every Monday I’m going to school at noon and I’m going to have lunch. And from there, it spawned, into being a community based match a couple years later. Sure. When I had a little bit more time on my hands as my kids got older.

    [00:10:18] Fuzz Martin: And what kind of activities in that community based match, what kind of activities do you, I mean, you’ve talked about like knitting before, so that’d be if, if.

    that little wanted to learn knitting it would be hey lets learn how to knit together

    [00:10:35] Jessica Barlament: We look at what the bigs interests are and the littles. So we try to match, you know so that, they have some similar interests , Cooking. You know, we have kids that love to cook or bake so, they can go to your house and you can just spend an afternoon doing that. I always think that’s a great lesson showing them how to make like freezer meals or, you know, things like that that they’d have after school.

    Farmers markets, you can incorporate them any way into your life. I mean, we had a big family where, their little loved to clean house and she felt guilty. He would go to their house and he loved to vacuum and he would clean their house. So it doesn’t have to be this phenomenal, huge thing for them to do.

    [00:11:13] Jessica Barlament: You know, it can just be those simple tasks in life. Because a lot of these kids don’t have those skills.

    [00:11:17] Fuzz Martin: Sure, sure. That makes a lot of sense. And that’s, that’s why this organization exists, right? Right. So, so obviously you mentioned that you’re in need of mentors. What kind of qualities do you look for in a potential mentor?

    And, and for those who maybe want to get involved with one of those different programs, how do they get involved?

    [00:11:36] Jessica Barlament: Well, we look for someone who obviously enjoys working with children and would like to have an impact on them, the consistency of, you know, it is a relationship you’re entering into that, you know, we’d like to have that consistency for that child.

    Maybe just that love of new experiences or, having fun taking them out into the community and just doing some simple things. We also do. Quite an extensive, we do background check and references, things like that. So, being willing to, you know, follow through on that kind of stuff too.

    [00:12:10] Fuzz Martin: Certainly.

    Are there any new initiatives or programs that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County has, either coming up or on the horizon?

    [00:12:18] Jessica Barlament: Well, we have just rebooted what we call Youthtrition. We like to put our words together.

    [00:12:23] Fuzz Martin: Oh, yeah, that works.

    [00:12:25] Jessica Barlament: Um, which is to address kind of that whole body’s, health.

    So we just had somebody from NAMI yesterday come into our agency and talk about mental health. We invited bigs, littles, and parents to that one. And then exercise, nutrition. So I know we have like a farmer’s market planned. We’re going to do a hike, things like that, just to make them aware of how they can have overall health.

    Excellent. Yeah. So, that’s one of our new ones that we’re, we’re kind of retooling at this point.

    [00:12:53] Fuzz Martin: Perfect. So, this year marks your 31st annual Golf4, F O R E, that’s clever, Kids Sake, Golf 4 Kids Sake event. First, where and when is that event?

    [00:13:07] Jessica Barlament: So, it is at the Washington County Golf Course on Friday, June 7th.

    [00:13:12] Fuzz Martin: All right. Perfect. break golf course, so it’s been going on for quite some time. How has that event evolved over the years?

    [00:13:19] Jessica Barlament: We’re kind of rebuilding that one because COVID, you know.

    [00:13:22] Fuzz Martin: Oh, yeah. COVID. That’s actually, uh, that was the end of our Epic golf course. It was, uh, the, with three rainouts in a row or two rainouts in a row, and then the third year was COVID.

    So that was, So, I know how it goes, but you, you stuck it around.

    [00:13:39] Jessica Barlament: We have. So, we’re, we have increased over the last couple of years with teams, but we’re always looking for more teams. Just adding some fun. We have Billy Sims coming out and he’s gonna have a table with some really good stuff. Texas Roadhouse will have a game table, and we have a chance for a significant amount of money off on a Rustero car, if you get the hole in one.


    [00:14:03] Fuzz Martin: yeah, yeah.

    [00:14:03] Jessica Barlament: Yeah, so, and we’ve had a bunch of new companies join us and, new sponsors, so.

    [00:14:08] Fuzz Martin: I was at Bowl for kid’s sake. And, we ended up going to the Hartford one. You always have great participation from the community, from sponsors, kudos to you guys. You guys, yeah, your sponsors and community members turn out, I would say.

    [00:14:25] Jessica Barlament: They do. They do. And I just really appreciate it. You know, it’s, it’s always Great to see a big crowd and, as a former teacher, it’s always fun to talk in front of a group of people.

    [00:14:36] Fuzz Martin: Absolutely. Have

    [00:14:37] Jessica Barlament: fun with them.

    [00:14:37] Fuzz Martin: Yes. And activities, right? The, uh, sponsor activities, or sponsor opportunities for, golf for kids sake.

    Include things like gold and silver sponsors. How do these kind of contributions support your programs at Big Brothers Big Sisters?

    [00:14:53] Jessica Barlament: So, we use the fundraising, to offer free or low cost activities to our matches. Of course, there’s operational costs, too, involved. And it just sustains us. Also, we’re doing background checks.

    You know, there’s a lot of those little costs in there that, kind of help us.

    [00:15:11] Fuzz Martin: For those that want to sponsor or get signed up for Golf for Kids Sake, where can they do so?

    [00:15:16] Jessica Barlament: They can call our office 262 334 7896 or the best place to go to find everything is our website, which is BBBSWashed. com. WASHCO, W A S H C O C O dot org. So, it’s like Washington County, Washco? Okay.

    [00:15:33] Fuzz Martin: B B B S WASHCO dot org.

    Yes. Alright, very good. I will link to that in the show notes, which are the little notes that accompany a podcast. And you click on the description and whatever podcast player you’re listening to, or if you’re listening to this on the website, It’s the blog post on the website. So, again, that’s Bowl, excuse me, Golf for Kids Sake, which is on June 7th.

    That’s a Friday, Friday, June 7th at the Washington County Golf Course. But that’s not all. You have Putt Putt Palooza coming up on August 10th, right? Yes. Tell us about Putt Putt Palooza. This is a new event, right?

    [00:16:10] Jessica Barlament: It’s a new one, yes. Well, for us who are not so skilled on the golf course, we thought it’d be, and we wanted to kind of do more of a family event.

    So we are going to be at Stingers in West Bend for mini golf. That’s more of my level of golf. And then we’re just, um, trying out a new idea this year to get some families in the community involved, come on out and just have a good time. Our pricing is, Very reasonable, affordable, so families can come out and, you know, you can have five or six people golfing at a very reasonable cost.

    [00:16:46] Fuzz Martin: Excellent. Yeah, Stingers is on Paradise Drive in West Bend. It’s the, that driving range, and miniature golf place. So, you also are going to have a, an extra special first putt for this one. Tell us about that and what makes it extra special.

    [00:17:02] Jessica Barlament: Okay. So, our first putt is going to be done by, big brother Mike and little brother Dale.

    Mike and Dale were matched in 1970. Wow. So, they still see each other. Mike, just attended Dale’s son’s wedding in May. Okay. So, it’s been like 54 years they’ve been together.

    [00:17:21] Fuzz Martin: So, it’s a great big. Yeah.

    [00:17:23] Jessica Barlament: Yes, yes. I know the grandkids are coming, right? Um, yeah, they already came, I guess. But, um, Mike and Dale is, I think, just the heart and soul of what our organization is about.

    That this isn’t just come in and mentor a kid for a year. You know, our goal is a lifelong relationship. I can personally speak what a great experience that is, and you know, it’s picking up another friend in life. But Dale was a single parent, came from a single parent family, and he said it was great to have Mike in his life, because he could talk to Mike about maybe some awkward things that he didn’t want to talk about with his mom, and that he, it was a trusted individual that, you know, he felt he could express his opinions and things with, and, you know.

    I think it’s just really, it’s significant as to what our organization is about.

    [00:18:13] Fuzz Martin: Yeah. And so they, they matched, what was it, 50

    [00:18:17] Jessica Barlament: 54

    [00:18:18] Fuzz Martin: years ago. That’s, wow, that’s amazing. And so they’re gonna, they’re going to do the first putt.

    [00:18:23] Jessica Barlament: Yeah, it’s kind of like the opening pitch at a Brewers game, you know, it’s like the first putt to get the, The place we’ll go in and then run through the golf course.

    [00:18:31] Fuzz Martin: That’s wonderful. So again, that’s Putt Putt Palooza on August 10th, which is what day again? Saturday, August 10th at Stingers Golf Course. How can people sign up for that again on the website? BBBSwashcode. org. Yes. And again, we’ll post that here. And, if people want to get involved or learn more, they can go to the website and learn more there as well.

    Any other things that, you have coming up or anything that you’d like people to know about?

    [00:18:58] Jessica Barlament: As far as fundraisers, that’s it, but, just. an outreach to the community. We also have an I Succeed Program for our matches grades 6 through 12. And that’s to help them kind of think about post secondary, what do I want to do after high school?

    Do I want to go on to college? Do I want to just go into the workforce right away? So we’re always looking for businesses that would love to do tours for our kids. Our program and activities coordinator, Danny, Does that program. Sure. So we’re always looking for tours of that. I Succeed, we also did a financial workshop with them.

    We’re looking at scholarship writing, but if there’s anybody in the community that, you know, feels they have something they could offer our kids. And would want to come in and do a workshop with them, that would also be a great way to help us out.

    [00:19:42] Fuzz Martin: So, and just get in touch with you and at, Big Brothers Big Sisters Washington County and, or, or Danny, I guess would be the, the way to go.

    You can point him in the right direction. Jessica, thank you so much for coming on the show today and, thanks for all you do for the community and for helping those, people. Who are, you know, looking for a mentor to have that resource and, and for connecting community members, with other community members.

    So thank you so much.

    [00:20:08] Jessica Barlament: You’re welcome. Thank you.

    [00:20:11] Fuzz Martin: Thank you again to Jessica Barlament for joining me on this week’s episode of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. If you ever have an idea For an episode of this show, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me, [email protected]. Just be sure to spell out the word fifteen, [email protected], or you can go to fuzz. cc slash guest, that is fuzz. cc slash guest. If you like this show, please hit the follow button in your podcast player, whether that’s Apple, Spotify, if you’re on YouTube, you can click the subscribe button. Or, you know, wherever you listen to these shows, you’re listening to it right now.

    So whatever you’re on, just click the follow button, please, if you like it. And then you’ll get it every time a new episode comes out, which happens on Tuesdays, all the episodes are also available at fifteenwithfuzz. com. And again, new episodes come out on Tuesdays. We’ve got another one for you next week, and I’ll talk to you then right here on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

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