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Groceries for Big Brothers Big Sisters Team

Alva, Florida

Tell us a little about yourself!

I am the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend, an elected member of the Leon County School Board, and the mother of six. Most of the six have lost jobs, returned from college and are very uncertain about the future.

Our agency places mentors in the lives of at risk youth and my staff is not only navigating their own uncertainty, but trying to help many families in poverty struggle through job loss, trying to educate their kids at home with no technological devices and lack of proper nutrition.

Tell us about your #MakeWaves project.

Many of the families in the Big Brothers Big Sisters network are experiencing food insecurity, job loss and increased depression and anxiety.

We have partnered with Second Harvest to have food distribution at our building and have distributed boxes of staples to many of our families in a drive through style. However, we all know the feeling of being able to go to the grocery store and pick out exactly what we want and need, from our kids favorite cereal or snack food, to those bright, red strawberries that you can smell before you even pick up the container.

I would like to offer 10 of our families the ability to go online to Publix, pick out what they want and put it in a shopping cart, and use these funds to pay for it. All transactions will be done online with the coordination of my staff, and the family will be notified via text when their groceries are ready to pick up.

What inspired your project and what impact would you like to make?

Families in crisis who have entrusted Big Brothers Big Sisters to place a mentor in the life of their child, just to give them the extra support that they need to achieve in school and in life inspired my project.

We serve over 300 youth currently in the Big Bend area and can confirm that we will provide groceries funded by this grant to those families who are most in need. 

I have experienced what it's like to not be able to buy what you would like from the grocery store. I've used a calculator to add up what was in my cart prior to going through the checkout line and verifying I had enough money in my checking account to cover groceries. While my situation has improved, I have not forgotten that feeling of barely being able to afford groceries.

Due to Covid-19 our families are not even able to go to the grocery store and are dependant on food banks to distribute whatever staples may sustain their families. I would like to give them not only the gift of food, but the power of choice.

I had this idea while helping my stepmother navigate online grocery shopping, walking her through what kind of soup and what brand of toilet paper did she want, and putting everything in the cart and scheduling her pick up time. Then she gave me her credit card info and she received texts while the shopping was occurring. I thought this would be a great concept for a charitable concept because there is no personal interaction, my staff can walk the families through the shopping process or shop for them, and we can enter the credit card information without compromising security.

Additionally, the family can pick up the groceries from Publix without ever having to leave their car! I'm just grateful that one of my Board members forwarded me your email and hope that you will consider funding 10 families with $100 worth of groceries of THEIR choice. We will take care of the rest!

Your message to the community:
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend is so grateful that one of our families will be able to select $100 worth of groceries thanks to grant funding provided by Vessi!

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