Big Brothers Big Sisters makes BIG impact on Erath County, thanks to its executive director.
When Sarah McNeal-Weaver became the executive director of Big Brother Big Sister of Erath County in 2015, she never imagined the joys she would experience during the next seven-year journey.
Since taking the reins, the organization has seen a 400 percent increase in individual donations and financial growth every single year.
“When I started working for the organization 13 years ago, not only did I find a job, I found a career in making my hometown a better place,” Sarah told Beneath the Surface News. "BBBS has served so many families in our community and I’ve had the opportunity to work with every single one of them.”
But overseeing a non-profit organization isn’t always easy, and Sarah has faced numerous challenges over the years, especially during the COVID pandemic in 2020.
While many organizations opted to cancel or postpone fundraising events, Sarah knew that wasn’t an option when it came to Dancing For the Stars, the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year.
“I had to make a choice, so I decided to reinvent it by creating an outdoor atmosphere, which is how we landed at Lone Star Arena,” Sarah said.
The new venue was such a hit, that it stuck, and on Thursday, Dancing For the Stars will be held at Lone Star Arena for the third year in a row.
MATCHING BIGS AND LITTLES
Sarah is the only local employee with BBBS Erath County, and her responsibility is large.
"She has such a heart for kids and our board of directors could never adequately express what she means to this organization,” board member Ricky Thurman said. “Sarah works tirelessly in collaboration with local schools, student organizations, businesses, civic groups and volunteers to carry out the mission of BBBS Erath County.”
Over the years, the organization has served hundreds of local children (littles) by matching them with mentors (bigs), and next year has set a lofty goal of mentoring 100 kids.
"It’s impossible to track the exact number of children we have served because so many of them have siblings we have also helped,” Sarah said. “Right now we have 36 matches and an 14 additional that are pending.
“We also have a pretty long list of children waiting to be paired with a mentor, but finding ‘bigs’ can sometimes be a struggle.”
Sarah manages to make it all work by overseeing other fundraisers like Krispy Kreme donut sales, a golf tournament in the summer, dodge ball tournament in the spring and corn hole tournament in the fall.
But with Dancing For the Stars just days away, her focus now is on pulling off another spectacular show.
Last year’s event raised a record-setting $164,000 (watch the highlights here), and Sarah and the board of directors are hoping that history will repeat itself.
"There is no greater honor than when families invite me into their homes to find their child a mentor,” Sarah said. “Enriching lives and building confidence is a great honor and I’m blessed to get to do it in Erath County.”