On Sept. 24, Juniper Grill in Murrysville will host a guest bartender night, where Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Laurel Region will tend bar and all tips will go to support the group’s mission of mentoring children in Western Pennsylvania.
One of those guest bartenders will be the group’s new executive director, Stephanie Mihleder of Murrysville.
Mihleder came to Big Brothers Big Sisters from the corporate philanthropy team at BNY Mellon, where she partnered with nonprofits and helped manage BNY Mellon’s community employee programs.
Mihleder, 37, spoke recently with the Murrysville Star about her new role, and about the organization’s strong need for more adult mentors.
The following interview has been condensed for length:
Q: What drew you to apply for the BBBS executive director position?
A: Having a job that is mission driven makes it very easy to go to work everyday, especially when that mission is at-risk youth. When preparing for the interview, I started to really dig into Big Brothers Big Sisters and found very quickly it was where I wanted to be. Their vetting, procedures and data-driven processes are impressive and the heart of the work they are doing is literally life-changing, many times just as much for the mentor as it is for the child. When reading the stories of the children who have been impacted, it’s almost impossible to not want to help.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in Westmoreland and Fayette counties for an organization like BBBS?
A: We need Bigs! We currently have a wait list of 130 children. I think there are a lot of misconceptions about what it takes to be a Big. At our agency, we ask that our community-based Bigs hang out with their Littles twice a month for a two-year commitment. We match interests and locations and there is no need to spend money.
A lot of these kids just want to go to the park, or throw around a ball, or bake a batch of brownies. People think that they don’t have enough time but they don’t realize that they can make their Littles part of their routine, like eating dinner at their home on a Wednesday night or watching a movie together.
I am currently going through the match process myself and have a very busy schedule with my own children. I am excited to blend my Little with my own family in the future.
Q: What do families in Westmoreland and Fayette need to know about BBBS and its mission?
A: Our mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Our services mentor, nurture, and empower children facing adversity to succeed at home, in school, in the community and in life. We’re literally building the future, one child at a time. Research studies are consistently completed and it is evident that children who have a Big do better in school, are more confident and feel better about themselves, get along better with family and friends and are more likely to steer clear of drugs and alcohol.
For more, see the the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ website at BBBS.cand.co.