October | 2021

The Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters’ fundraising Golf Tournament was the biggest success we have had in a very long time. Thanks to Board Members, Kevin Shannon for his personal and Newmark Co. contributions, Bob Madok for his personal and obtaining the Sikand and Green Oak Foundation donations, and the generous support and organizing efforts of the Golf Committee – Jim Carmack, Rick Higgins, and Evan Moran. There were many others who contributed dollars and volunteer hours to the event.

Thanks to all who have supported our work during these very challenging times. It takes the collaborative efforts of many organizations and individuals to help us to continue our youth programs and bring equity to the families who are in our service and the beneficiaries of our volunteer Big Brothers’ and Big Sisters’ dedicated time and friendship.

Kudos to our Finance and Human Resources Director, Alex Lopez, for discovering and accessing Federal, State and local public funds to supplant our Special Events revenues, which had to be cancelled and postponed due to the pandemic. Just as advertised, these funds are not expected for the long run but stop-gaps to keep our needed youth services on-going.

In addition to the above supporters, thanks to Board Members Bob Klein for introducing Providence/St. John’s contributions, Tim Macker for personal contributions, Barron DeSanctis and Kevin Walker for personal and Corporate donations, and the Corporate and Foundation support from the Carrie Estelle Doheny, CBRE, Rose Hills, and Berkman Foundations. Also, many thanks to Tom and Mary Hawkins for personal donations.

Looking to the future, Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters is pivoting our fundraising plans to restart our Special Events, solicit Foundations, and ask individuals to support our work through current and Estate contributions. There have been many threats to our financial well-being over the almost 100 years of our work in Los Angeles County but none quite so major as COVID. It’s “all hands on deck.” We will need to reinvigorate our asking because there are so many needy causes, but none quite so important as ours: empowering and inspiring youth to reach their full potential in life and thus, “pay it forward” to the community.

(Event Photos)

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

September | 2021

Our Los Angeles community is experiencing the end of a baseball season and the phrase, “keep your eye on the ball” comes to mind. I remember adults telling me that when I was growing up. Of course, they were encouraging me to keep to the task and work for a good academic result.

The Dodgers and Lakers, among other donors, supported Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters and other local mentoring organizations to distribute school backpacks to the underserved youth in the Los Angeles community. Hundreds of youth and families attended the drive-through at our office to receive attractive backpacks and interesting related items, i.e. calculators and alarm clocks to name several, to help them get through their upcoming studies.

Our Little Brothers and Sisters always do well in their studies due in large to the mentoring of their Big Brothers’ and Big Sisters’ and our excellent staff’ encouragement. Several of our new graduating Littles are going to Eastern schools on scholarships and local students are receiving financial assistance. We are very proud of our graduating Littles. Almost all of our youth have to overcome challenges in the schools and communities where they live.

The challenge of blindness did not deter our Big Brother Ollie. He has worked as a lawyer in the top levels of the Federal Government – even in the White House – and has been a Big Brother to several of our Little Brothers. While in Washington DC he mentored blind triplet brothers and they too are doing well and attending college. We are proud of how our mission has spread to help so many youth. We had a very inspiring conversation with Ollie last week and we are always amazed at his accomplishments. Being blind, his phrase is “keeping your ear to the ground.”

Whatever phrase you remember to spur you on, remember our mission of helping youth and their families to receive equitable academic and healthcare treatment in our community. You can do this by “keeping your eye on the ball,” or “ear to the ground.” Our hope is that you support us in our mission to help youth reach their potential in life.

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

August | 2021

It used to be that August was a month when young people enjoyed the last vestiges of summer. Now it seems like they are getting ready to go back to the classroom – that is if they are allowed to go back to the school without restrictions. Children’s lives are more unsettled and confused these days.

During the pandemic, our Bigs, Littles and Staff have pivoted and taken up new ways of meeting with each other. We have added Zoom events and made use of devices to keep the partnerships progressing. It’s worked and we’re proud of all.

Our staff and volunteers recently experienced the graduation celebration of our Little Brothers and Little Sisters. We couldn’t be prouder. Though the pandemic has changed so many of our routines and protocols, several of our graduating Littles have received scholarships – one to Carelton University in Minnesota and one to Drexel University in Pennsylvania and others are attending California Universities and Community Colleges.

Since 1925, we have provided youth with mentors to empower the potential within them. We are on the Road to 100 years and we know that the presence of just one caring adult mentor– a Big Brother or Big Sister ‒ can change a child’s life direction and help place them on a path to success.
-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

July | 2021

The work we do is a privilege. We have the opportunity to watch as youth receive the gift of time and good examples as they grow up in some under-resourced communities. The instruments of our work are the volunteers – our Big Brothers and Big Sisters. So often we hear from them that they too receive benefits from their spending time with a youth in our program – our Little Brothers and Little Sisters.

Just last weekend we enjoyed the sharing of Bigs, Littles and parents at our 2021 Match Graduation Virtual Ceremony. Several are going to superb Universities, a couple on scholarship, and State or Community Colleges. The fields of study are impressive, and they articulated their pursuits and dreams so well. Our wonderful staff are always elated to hear the testimonies. Mothers and volunteers also chime in about how much they have received from the program. They tell of a feeling of gratification at being present as the flower of maturity blossoms.

Receiving inspiration from his single mother, Big Brother Andrew, a successful media manager, shared how he was driven to give his time to help a young man through mentoring, Diego, do well and succeed. He wanted to “Pay It Forward”. He revealed that he received so much from Diego too in terms of enjoyment and a healthy lifestyle.

Stories like these help us to do our best too. Last week we received our 8th consecutive National Quality Award. That puts our agency in the top 3% of the 300 BBBS agencies in the U.S. You can be proud of Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters and our staff, Board, Youth and our Volunteers. To support and sustain our work with more youth – see the information about our upcoming Virtual Wine & Cheese tasting and Magic Show on July 17th.

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

June | 2021

June is a special month for my family and for the mission of Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters. It is a month to celebrate the fathers in our lives and Pride Month. Part of our mission is to serve those of all identities and for years our agency characterized our work to help the children of fatherless families. And today many of our Little Brothers and Sisters – over 60% – live in households where there is no father.

Having a loving father and male role model is a positive influence for youth development. I was blessed to have a very caring and hard-working father who wanted the best for his children and provided the love and guidance for myself and sister and brother to succeed. Among our family, we celebrate diversity and are proud of our members who celebrate June as Pride month. Unfortunately, many of the families we serve don’t have that male source of direction and support. Thankfully our agency is here to help.

We have had so many examples of male role-modeling but one which we will sorely miss is our recently deceased Board member and National Big Brother of the Year, Mike Trueblood. His funeral is this month. Mike helped his wife Phyllis raise 4 successful adult children who have gone on to give back to the community in so many ways. Mike adopted the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters about 60 years ago and was instrumental in my accepting of the leadership role here at CBBBS. The ever-expanding ripple of Mike’s devotion caries on through me and all those who knew him. He remains an exemplary father and role-model. His selfless giving inspires me to be the best father, grandfather and great-grandfather that I can be.

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

May | 2021

We’re in between two important months in the life of Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters – April is National Volunteer Month and May is the month we celebrate Mother’s Day. For me there’s a close connection.

As you know, our mentoring work with children is carried out by volunteers which is a priceless show of human kindness. We respect and applaud their work. And then I think of the many mothers I have known, my wife, my mother, my teachers and friends, and the many mothers in our mentoring programs. I think of their sacrifices – often taking care of others first before themselves, working and running a household so often volunteering at their children’s schools or activities and seeking the best programs for the children in their lives.

We have the opportunity to meet some very dedicated mothers – sometimes they are grandmothers or foster/kinship-care women who want more for the children they care for. One mother applied for Big Brothers for 2 of her sons. Her family was broken and she had to work several jobs to have food and shelter for her family. She could not provide the experiences her sons needed to know the opportunities available because of little time or money. She also wanted them to see a larger world than she could provide. Her sons were matched with mentors, are continuing through high school to graduate and considering choices in law enforcement and military. She thanks us for our program and the Big Brothers for their mentorship and presence within her family.

My hat’s off to the many mothers – in every form. They are special to us and to the youth in their families. We owe them our best efforts to provide mentoring adults who can open the world of opportunities and show their Little Brothers and Sisters the potential prospects for a successful life.

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

April | 2021

I had a friend ask me recently about the popularity of the Basketball Sister Jean. Why me? Well, Sr. Jean was my 8th Grade teacher and a true inspiration in my life. She spent extra time outside of normal class hours to tutor expected graduates for upcoming high school Entrance Exams.

Though high school graduates — my father a tradesman and my mother from an immigrant family —the ways of studying for entrance exams were not in their knowledge base. So, Sr. Jean became my academic mentor. She not only tutored us but she personally encouraged us. I think back on how blessed I was to have my parents and Sr. Jean in my life.

As you probably know, Sr Jean is still active by giving encouragement and support to her Loyola of Chicago Ramblers Basketball players at the age of 101. So, my quick answer to my friend was, “endurance”. Sr Jean has stayed the course in the good and bad times and offered her support when bad times and praise when good times. Her motto of perseverance and endurance is, “Worship, Work, Win”.

After reaching 26 years of leading Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, I began thinking about what keeps me here doing my job. Certainly, it’s not my doing that thousands of youth have been mentored by Big Brothers and Big Sisters, just as Sr. Jean did for her students, but it’s staying in touch with selfless volunteers in service with their youth mentees or volunteers on our Board of Directors.

Every youth graduate from our program goes on to higher education or a career. They earn more because of their perseverance and they save the community from wear and tear and cost of possible victimization or incarceration. They all make me feel like I’m a winner. Our staff feels the same way – one having almost 27 years of service, one with over 30 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and another with 20 years with our agency.

Our professional team, the many Board members, some of whom have been with us for over 30 years and many over 20, are all encouraging your support of our very important work of bringing equity to youth and their families in these challenging times. Help us to continue our winning ways on the Road to 100 years.

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

March | 2021

We hope you can share our pride. We were notified by the California Federation of Big Brothers Big Sisters that our Big Brother and Board Secretary, Barron De Sanctis, and his Little Brother, Azeal, were chosen this Year’s Big/Little Brothers of the Year – our third year in a row. This is not a small fete in that there are approximately 10,000 volunteers and youth to choose from each year. All of the twelve Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies have so many wonderful stories to share about success in helping youth reach their life potential.

CBBBS never wants to become complacent about the service our volunteers provide – they are all winners in the minds and hearts of the children, families, the agency and our Board of Directors, and communities we’ve served for 96 years in Los Angeles. This is not our first Rodeo. We’ve had nine California Bigs of the Year, including a blind Big Brother, a Big Brother and a Sister for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a High School Big Sister, now a Social Worker in her community, a Senior Big Brother, a current network News reporter and anchor, and many other outstanding Bigs in the community. All are important success stories in bringing equity to the underserved and fostering youth life potential.

Our peerless success has been acclaimed at the National levels also. Our Big Brothers of the Year for 1990, 1999 and 2011 were received in the White House – even the Oval Office! Our Bigs have been acknowledged for their selfless service to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and children of the incarcerated. Though not our aim, CBBBS feels very blessed to have had such distinguishable volunteers who bring health and academic equity to those on the margins.

Our celebration includes you too. In whatever way you have become associated with our mission – feel the same pride that we have in supporting the mission of serving our youth and communities. Congratulations and please pass our common success on to your friends and followers.

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

February | 2021

Life seems to be challenging and unsettled these days. There are tragedy and job loss, health and political issues ever present. At Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters we offer stability to youth and their families even during turbulent times. As an example, we recently received a Semi-Annual report from an antique dealer which outlines the agency’s services in 1929 – 1930.

Back then as Catholic Big Brothers, the then Chair of the Board proffered, “…there is a time in every boy’s life when he seeks a man upon whom to mold his character.” Now serving girls and women, our role has not changed but our delivery has gone through many improvements and pivots. Big Brothers and Big Sisters are still volunteering their time to help others in the community. Most of our children are faced with challenges but with the mentoring provided by our Bigs and the support of our staff, they are achieving their life’s potential.

Our reports show better academics, staying away from risky behaviors, and superior levels of High School Graduation. This doesn’t just happen, it’s our volunteers led by our professional staff, and the financial donations of important donors that support our work that make it happen. Today when our Big s and Littles can’t meet face to face, we continue our necessary work and achieve the successes that were envisioned in 1929-1930.

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President

January | 2021

In the midst of the National crisis, we received this note from a mother in our program, “thank you very much for our Christmas gifts…may God always bless you so that you continue with this program helping more families… I am very happy that my girls are in this program.”We call upon our volunteer Bigs and Board of Directors, our staff and our families to support the work of inspiring children to reach their potential. The results of your support inspire our young people and encourages them to a life of meaningful work and service—but it will take all of us as no one organization or one person can do this alone. We need each other more than ever to provide the vital mentoring programs that serve the most vulnerable young people and families in our communities.

Today’s stark reminders show us why Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters exists; that it’s during our greatest challenges that young people need us most. And that they know there are positive adults ¬ Bigs – that they can talk to and depend on to help them navigate the uncertainties and inequities they encounter in the community.

Next month, Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters will reach its 96th year of serving the Los Angeles region. Let’s stand together, focused on the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters mission to our Littles and shape new generations and inspire the best from our great communities for years to come. Our Littles will remember who called to help, who rushed in to aid, and who stood up to build power for their future at this moment when they needed us most.

-Ken Martinet Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters, CEO/President