News & Updates

Community Impact: Sharing the Love of Mentorship

“It’s been over 35 years, and I can still remember how happy I felt when my Big taught me how to ride a bike! It was moments like these – the feeling you get when someone believes you can achieve anything that I cherish the most.” – Little Jesse 

Today, Jesse and John, two brothers from Atlanta, Georgia are building a brighter community one chicken sandwich at a time. Jesse is a catering manager and his younger brother, John is the store manager at a local Chik-Fil-A franchise in Whitehall, Pennsylvania. John shares, “The work you’re doing is so important. Having a Big Brother made all the difference in my brother, Jesse’s life and even had an influence on me and my younger brother. We want to work with organizations like yours to support youth in Lehigh Valley!” 

In Atlanta, Jesse was matched with his Big, Don for twelve years. Sadly, Jesse’s parents divorced when he was only seven years old. “The one thing I remember most about my Big is that he would surprise me and show up at my baseball and basketball games – it meant the world at the time because my Dad wasn’t there.” As a children’s ministry leader, he knows first-hand how critical it is for young boys to have a mentor in their lives at such an impressionable age. “Our young boys are struggling with their mental health, confidence and believing in their ability to achieve their dreams. We need more men to step in and give them the support they need to discover their potential.” 

Men of family and faith, Jesse and John understand the impact one person can make on your life and are grateful to pay it forward for their children and youth in the Lehigh Valley. “Don taught us the importance of showing up in relationships by being a dependable friend. I credit him for the way we show up as husbands, fathers and friends in our community. It’s vital that young boys and men in Lehigh Valley have someone like YOU show up for them, too!”  

Learn more about Becoming A Big today – Volunteer – Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley ( 

In Memory of ‘Big’ William Donald Hamilton 


Go BIG – Inspiring the Next Generation!

Cristal is a friend of ours from way back who needed some help. Her son, Jayden, like many young people his age, was struggling. He was trying to find his way despite having autism and social anxiety – a difficult combination for anyone to manage. He tended to pull away from friends and family because it was more natural for him to turn inward as a place of refuge. Cristal knew though, that this was not the ‘best Jayden.’ The best Jayden would share how wonderful he is with the world and fulfill his highest potential.

Considering how to help Jayden, Cristal thought of two people who made the biggest difference for her during her most challenging times. They were the two Big Sisters she was matched with, Julie and Courtney from BBBSLV when she was 9-18 years old. She knew if anyone could, BBBSLV would find the perfect Big Brother for Jayden who could help him discover his amazing value, that it is okay to be himself, and that he can trust others who care about him.

Today, we are asking that, if you are able, please consider strengthening BBBSLV with a financial gift to support our mission. So much of what we do relies on the generosity of our neighbors. Your gift will give more Littles the chance to connect with caring adults and help young people like Cristal and Jayden who just needed the support of a Big to understand how much value they possess.

Since their match, Greg has helped make a dramatic difference for Jayden, and Cristal is so happy that BBBSLV is here to help her son, just like it helped her. She said, “I see the same excitement that I had when my Big Sister arrived when Greg comes to pick Jayden up. He is so excited to try new things and was open to being the featured as a Little at the Golf for Kids’ Sake tournament. He overcame his shyness and was able to share his experience as a Little Brother in front of a room full of people! We were all so proud of him!”

Those years ago, Julie and Courtney could not have known that spending time with her to read books, go places, and make sure Cristal felt like the most important kid in the world was helping her so much. She was going through things that no child should experience, but by being a Big Sister to Cristal, they helped her to overcome. Now a loving mother with children of her own, Cristal works with children by providing a safe space for them. She knows that Julie and Courtney’s care and support changed her life for the better, and her special relationships with her Big Sisters led her to connect Jayden to BBBSLV and his own Big, Greg. But, without the support of our generous donors and volunteers, this connection may never have happened.

The relationships between Bigs and Littles improve young people’s lives in ways that reverberate through the generations. Your contribution will help a Little to become an adult who loves and cares for others, ensures that BBBSLV can continue its important work, and may even help mothers and sons and fathers and daughters share similar life-changing experiences.

It takes Little to Be Big – Donate to the BBBSLV program today!

Go BIG – Sign up to Volunteer today!

Golf for Kids’ Sake tournament matches kids with mentors in new Sports Buddies program

For Immediate Release 

Allentown, PA– September 26 – More than 140 golfers and 50 corporate partners gathered at Woodstone Country Club on Monday, September 11th for a fundraiser supporting Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lehigh Valley. Together, they raised $112,304 at the 14th annual Golf for Kids’ Sake, one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers of the year, presented by Service Electric.

Currently, there are 250 boys waiting to be matched with a mentor who can teach them life skills through their participation in sports activities and events in the community. Funds raised provides the resources needed to match kids with mentors in a new program, Sports Buddies, specifically designed to address the demand for Big Brothers to be matched with boys who spend an average of 18 months on a waiting list.  

“Proceeds from this tournament will match boys with a trusted friend who can teach them valuable lessons in life – a mentor who can offer support to help them overcome challenges and adversity, Susan continues, “Sports has proven to promote physical and emotional health as well as a sense of community that young boys and volunteers need now more than ever.”  

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lehigh Valley has partnered with parents/guardians, schools, corporations, and others in the Lehigh Valley to pair children (Littles) with qualified, trained volunteers (Bigs), and monitor these one-to-one relationships throughout their journey.  

“I’m nervous and excited to meet my Big! I look forward to having someone to hang out with who will help me get healthier!” – Little2B Isaiah

CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more about the Sports Buddies program.


Founded in 1971, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley is a part of a national organization working to clear the path to a child’s biggest possible future. Joining parents with our staff, we match each child with a mentor to foster a friendship built on trust, learning and growth. Together, we are Defenders of Potential. 

 Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley – Defenders of Potential ( 


Tera Taylor-Green 

Marketing & Communications Manager 

Lehigh Valley Mayors ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ at Bowl for Kids’ Sake to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters  

For Immediate Release 

Allentown, PA-Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lehigh Valley is thrilled to announce our Biggest Fundraiser of the Year, Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Morgan Stanley and Service Electric are the Presenting Sponsors of this year’s event to be held on Sunday, April 2, 2023, at Jordan Lanes – Whitehall. 

Bowlers are in for new, exciting activities and special surprises at the annual fundraiser. Mayors Sal Panto of Easton and J. William Reynolds of Bethlehem will kick off the competition with a ceremonial roll. This year’s theme, “March Madness” calls for people to create teams of up to five members to bowl in their favorite college basketball team jerseys for a chance to win grand prizes and giveaways for Best Dressed and Highest Scoring teams.  

“For over 40 years, Bowl for Kids’ Sake has empowered Lehigh Valley’s youth to imagine a bigger future and make their dreams come true, says Susan Bartels, CEO of BBBSLV, with our community’s support, we can continue our mission to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring one-to-one relationships that have the power to change their lives, forever.  

Mentorship connects young people with opportunities for personal growth and development. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lehigh Valley facilitates that growth by supporting Bigs (mentors) and Littles (mentees) in spending quality time together and enjoying simple activities such as working on school projects and homework, arts and crafts, playing tennis or going to a Lehigh Valley Legends basketball game.  

“The Lehigh Valley is made up of great organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters,” says Mayor Reynolds, “and this event is a perfect example of what can happen when our cities come together for the greater good of their community.” 

Donate or Register for Bowl for Kids’ Sake: Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2023 – Campaign ( 


Founded in 1971, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley is a part of a national organization working to clear the path to a child’s biggest possible future. Joining parents with our staff, we match each child with a mentor to foster a friendship built on trust, learning and growth. Together, we are Defenders of Potential. 

About Mayor Sal Panto  

Mayor Panto is in his fourth consecutive term as Mayor of Easton, Pennsylvania. In November 2019 Sal Panto, Jr. was re-elected capturing 82% of the votes and sweeping every ward in the city. He also served two terms as Mayor from 1984-1992 when he was elected at the age of 31, the City’s youngest Mayor. He is recognized as a highly effective local government leader and is credited with making Easton a cleaner and safer city.  

About Mayor J. William Reynolds 

J. William “Willie” Reynolds is a socialist American politician. A lifelong resident of Bethlehem, William graduated Magna Cum Laude from Moravian College in 2003 with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. William, following a campaign that saw him knock on nearly 4,000 doors, became the youngest City Council member in Bethlehem’s history in 2007 following his successful challenge to a slate of incumbent Council members.  He served as a city councilman of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania from 2008 until 2021 and is currently the city’s 12th and incumbent Mayor, starting his term in 2022 which is set to expire in 2026. He is eligible to stand for re-election. 


Tera Taylor-Green 

Marketing & Communications Manager 

The Big Reunion: Big Sister Lori and Little Sister Kim Reconnect after 40 Years

Big Lori felt like an anxious kid as she waited outside the restaurant where she would meet her Little again after four decades. “At 54 and 67, we did not instantly recognize each other,” Little Kim laughs, “I was looking for a brunette, because I remember her having dark hair. I noticed a slim blonde, and I took a chance – and it was my Big, Lori!” There was an instant reconnection — they talked until the restaurant closed, then headed over to Starbucks to reminisce a little longer over coffee.

In 1979, Kim was struggling with an abusive stepdad, and her mom saw an opportunity for Kim to have a positive role model and have fun in the community — at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley in Allentown. Little Kim remembers her Big Sister picking her up for the first time in a little white Pinto with an orange interior and roof. Kim gleams with nostalgia, “We didn’t have a car when I was growing up, so it was exciting just to take a ride in her cool Pinto!” A young professional in her early 20s, Lori was nervous because she had little experience with 11-year-olds. She wondered if Kim’s mother would like her and trust her to keep Little Kim safe.

Lori felt a strong call to make a difference in her community. She had time to give, and asked herself, “What is going to make me feel good?” Her friend Mary was a new Big Sister and invited Lori to try it too. Lori and Mary – still friends today — got to know each other better as they bonded with their new little sisters. Little Kim recalls how excited she was to have so many first-time experiences with her Big. “I remember the John Travolta shirt I wore for horseback riding like it was yesterday! We went roller skating at Castle Garden, ice skating, played miniature golf, swam at the YMCA and would get ice cream at Oasis afterwards. I even met Lori’s dad at a special dinner!”

When Kim was 20, she experienced tough losses – her beloved mom passed away from breast cancer, five months after her stepdad died, and nine months later she lost her dad too. “I have been through a lot in my life, but I now know that each experience has been a steppingstone that gave me the strength to move to the next chapter.” Married for 30 years and Mom to three, Kim enjoys a successful career as a Business Development & Marketing Manager in the home care industry. She still believes in her ability to overcome anything to make her dreams come true, thanks to Lori’s support. Lori is reaping the rewards from her relationship with Kim now more than ever and she cherishes the importance of relationship stability, “Kim is like a true sister to me, and to reconnect with her now lets me know I still have a lot more memories to create!”

Likewise, Kim has learned to appreciate the people who stood up for her and influenced her so deeply. “I have come to value relationships enough to stay in touch with people who made a difference in my life. After COVID, I felt compelled to reach back and thank my Big and the people who made a significant impact. Life felt very fragile after the pandemic. I began to appreciate my mother’s struggles and her decisions. She did the best she could by giving me bigger opportunities through the program. I understand how pouring into and supporting another person is a true sacrifice, that my Big made for me at such an early age and, I am ever grateful for how it ultimately changed my life.”

With your donation, we can sustain our professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships, and make more matches for the 247 children from our communities who are currently waiting for their Big. Spark another life-changing connection and donate to BBBSLV today!

BBBSLV Honored with 2022 Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Quality Award

The agency is recognized for outstanding team leadership in providing 1-to-1 mentoring programming for local youth.

BBBSLV Program Specialist, Natalie Artinger
2022 BBBSA National Conference

(Allentown, PA) June 23, 2022 –Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lehigh Valley (BBBSLV) has been recognized as a 2022 Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) Quality Award Winner. Every year, BBBS agencies are recognized by BBBSA Nationwide Leadership Council, made up of local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency leaders and board members, for excellence in the organization’s signature 1-to-1 youth mentoring program. Out of approximately 230 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lehigh Valley is one of 53 organizations to receive this top honor.

“I am so proud of our board and staff for making quality programming a priority for our local children,” said Susan Bartels, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley. “Their hard work equates to more mentorship in the Lehigh Valley and a brighter future for area youth.”

For over 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been dedicated to advancing equity, impact, and growth across the organization, making a lasting impact on the lives of young people. Today, the organization creates and supports one-to-one mentoring relationships helping build self-confidence and emotional well-being, and empowering young people on a path to graduate with a plan for their futures and a mentor whose impact can last a lifetime.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country are finding innovative ways to serve young people and strengthen communities,” said BBBSA President and CEO Artis Stevens. “We congratulate these agencies for leading the way in transforming mentorship for our communities, and most importantly, our young people.”

The Quality Award Winners were formally recognized at the 2022 Big Brothers Big Sisters “Bigger Together” National Conference, held June 19 through June 22 in Indianapolis.

Congrats to all the 2022 BBBSLV graduates!

Big Stories 2022 - our graduates
Big Stories 2022: Little Santos addresses the audience, as Big Tony looks on.

As the 2022 graduation season comes to a close, we’re celebrating all of the new graduates who are connected to BBBSLV – including the outstanding students we recognized at our Big Stories 2022 event on May 25 at the BBBSLV Youth Mentoring Center!

This year’s Big Stories theme was “A Night of Inspiration,” celebrating the achievements of graduates from the class of 2020 through 2022 and acknowledging high school seniors as well as undergraduates for their academic achievements.

Big Stories 2022
Big Stories 2022: Big Briana and Little Deanna
Big Stories 2022
Big Stories 2022
Big Stories 2022: Big Tony and Little Santos

The BIG surprise of the night was that donated an additional $2500 to the BBBSLV scholarship fund! Those dollars went to five graduating high school seniors who were awarded scholarships based on financial need and merit: Thanks to’s gift, they each received an additional $500. Thanks so much to Amazon this thoughtful and generous gift – our graduates are sincerely honored!

We also thank our Big Stories 2022 Gold Sponsor, iHeartRadio, for partnering with us to share the unique and inspiring journeys of our Bigs and their graduating Littles. With their help, and contributions from community members like you, our matches were able to share their stories with a broader audience and hopefully make a Bigger impact on our community!

We’re inspired by all our recent BBBSLV graduates, including Littles as well as Bigs from our High School Bigs program – like Hemani Patel, who plans to major in biomedical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall.

“I would encourage someone to become a mentor through this program because we are given the opportunity to directly change someone’s life from an early age,” Hemani said. “Also, after being a part of this program for a longer period of time, it is extremely rewarding to see the growth in your Little throughout the years and it’s exciting to realize that you are a part of it.”

Please join us in celebrating all of these graduates! And if you’re able, check out how you also can support BBBSLV’s mentoring programs, or learn how to become a Big like Hemani.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake makes in-person return at a new venue for the same BIG cause  

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Lehigh Valley will hold its largest and most exciting fundraiser, ‘Bowl for Kids’ Sake’ on Saturday, May 7th at Jordan Lanes in Whitehall.   

The fundraiser was modified in 2021 to a virtual format due to the coronavirus pandemic. Participants registered for a Virtual BFKS Trivia Bowl where all funds raised supported the BBBSLV program that empowers kids to realize their full potential. 

This year’s theme, ‘Strike it BIG for Kids!’ calls for people to create teams of up to five members to bowl in person on Derby Day. Bowlers will dress in their Kentucky Derby best with hats and themed colors. In keeping with COVID protocols, masks are recommended but not required. 

“Every year, this event raises money to support the work of creating one-to-one relationships that change the lives of the youth in Lehigh Valley forever. says Bartels, CEO of BBBSLV. “We invite you to stand with us to support these relationships and the youth that are waiting for a mentor like YOU to make a difference in their lives.”   

The funds raised support matches in maintaining connection and growing together as they enjoy activities proven to improve a child’s self-esteem, such as doing homework, going for walks, trying a new recipe, or shooting hoops. BBBSLV offers committed adults several options for helping a child in their community who deserves a bright and promising future.  

 Register for Bowl for Kids’ Sake: Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2022 – Campaign (  

Sponsor Bowl for Kids’ Sake: Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2022 Sponsorship – Campaign (  

 About Bowl for Kids’ Sake 

Bowl for Kids’ Sake is Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley’s LARGEST fundraiser. Each year, over 800 people and 30 companies get together to help raise money and support our mission to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth here in the Lehigh Valley.  

Women in Mentorship Spotlight with Big Sister Mia

Women mentoring girls is so important—because when they see it, they believe they can be it. It helps them gain access to bigger opportunities, builds their self-confidence, and gives them guidance to address challenges as they advance through school and life. When more women reach back to support young girls, the greater the prospect that those same girls will become mentors themselves. We had a chance to sit down with Mia Kline, our Program Specialist, to discuss how her Big Sister inspired her to become a mentor and continue the legacy of making a difference in her community.

How did you get involved with BBBSLV? Tell me your story. 

I was recommended for the program by my guidance counselor in elementary school because I was getting bullied and came from a single parent household. My mom was really excited for me to have another person to look up to. I learned a lot from my Big, who was a volunteer in what is now our High School Bigs’ program, about school and various aspects of life. She had been bullied when she was younger, so she helped to guide me through those things.

How long have you and your Little Kryneisha been matched? What makes your bond unique? 

Kryneisha and I have been matched for 4 years; one year school based, and three years community based. My favorite thing about Kryneisha is her sense of humor! She has been through a lot and always finds a way to make others laugh. That’s really inspiring to me. Our bond is unique because we have a bond one to one but, it’s grown even deeper because of my connection to her older sister, Kileysha who is my other Little. It has been interesting getting to know them together and separately and has helped me learn more about them. 

Describe a defining moment in your relationship. The turning point? 

I was nervous to meet Little Kryneisha in the beginning and it took a while for us to get comfortable with each other. When our match switched from school based to community based, I noticed a shift in our relationship because we were able to try new activities together in the community. It created opportunities to learn more about one another and establish a closer relationship. Over time, Kryneisha’s confidence in herself and our relationship grew. She even felt comfortable confiding in me about losing her mother in a tragic car accident. 

How did you eventually come aboard as a Program Specialist with BBBSLV? 

As a Human Development and Family Studies major, I was looking to intern with an agency that would give me a competitive edge in Human Services. BBBSLV happened to have an opening for an internship and I was so excited to apply! With my background and history in the program, it seemed natural to come on board as an intern and when Maggie, our Program Director, invited me to apply for the position as Program Specialist, I was sure that this was a promising start to my career. My enrollment in the BBBSLV program has opened doors for me that I never thought were possible as a mentee, mentor and professional.

What advice would you give to women who are interested in Becoming a Big Sister? 

Many young women I talk to are nervous about whether their Little will like them or be comfortable around them. Once you get past the initial meeting, you find that you and your Little have so much in common which makes it easy to relate to one another. When you volunteer with BBBSLV, you get to see firsthand how your contribution impacts a child’s life and your community. 

What is the most rewarding experience you have in the BBBSLV program as a Little Sister? Big Sister? Program Specialist? 

While each mentoring relationship is unique, the commonality is that we learn from one another and grow together over time. Looking back, I feel my Big Sister made a significant impact on my career choices. Serving as a mentor and helping others achieve their goals even in the face of hardships and tragedy has not only inspired my professional life but makes me feel like I’m a vital part of changing my community. As an employee, I have the unique privilege to facilitate match moments where girls envision their future based on role models they can see, up close and personal.

This Women’s History Month, Make A Difference in A Young Girl’s Life: Becoming a Big – Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley (

Black History Spotlight: Big Ra’Von & Little Messiah

“When I look back on who made a difference in my life and motivated me over the years, I don’t know where I would be without my Big Brother,” Ra’Von reflects, “as well as sports heroes like Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Jesse Owens who broke down barriers and gave us hope for a promising future.”

Big Ra’Von and Little Messiah were initially matched in 2020 at the height of the global pandemic. After waiting six years for a mentor, Little Messiah was undoubtedly nervous when he met his Big for the first time. Ra’Von, a police officer for the City of Bethlehem, felt an instant connection to Messiah at their first meeting, “He’s like a mini me! We have a lot in common and relate to one another because we didn’t have a relationship with our fathers.” says Ra’Von, who was also a Little Brother in the BBBSLV program thanks to your support.

It’s been difficult to find a variety of activities to do together due to COVID but, they seem to have found common ground on one thing: Food! They enjoy going to different eateries across Lehigh Valley together on the weekends where they talk about everything from video games to their favorite fantasy sports’ teams. Over time, Messiah has grown more comfortable talking to Ra’Von, “He teaches me how to be respectful and make good choices.” says Little Messiah.

In the aftermath of tragic incidents of racial profiling and violence resulting from police actions, Ra’Von has been a stable and consistent voice in Messiah’s life. Little Messiah wanted a BB gun toy for Christmas and Ra’Von advised him against it and explained to him the importance of personal safety and violence prevention. “It is important that Messiah understands that having a weapon of any kind in his possession can be dangerous and puts him in a position to have a run in with law enforcement. Considering recent events that impact young men of color, it is my responsibility to set an example for him and guide him in making decisions that will keep him safe and on the right path.”

“Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream inspires me the most, says Little Messiah, he is the true champion of equality.”

Learn more about Mentoring Youth of Color, here: Resources for Mentors Around Race, Inclusion, & Cultural Respect – MENTOR (

Join the Village, Become A Big, today: Becoming a Big – Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley (