Big Brothers Big Sisters Switch to Permanent Virtual Work Model for Administrative Staff

The timing was perfect, as her lease in the Wellness Plan building ended in February, said Jeannine Gant, president and CEO of the association.

The space leased from Durfee will provide it with a mailing address and limited shared space for employees when they need a place to meet mentors or just take a break from working from home, Gant said.

“When COVID hit, we had to think about ways to cut costs while still being efficient in our work. “

The move will reduce the $ 7,000 monthly rent BBBS paid for the rented space it occupied for the past 10 years in the building at 7700 Second Avenue by $ 6,000.

The nonprofit organization’s business model lends itself to a virtual workplace, Gant said.

“Our work is in the community. … Where our big brothers and big sisters meet their little ones ”and meet the“ little ones ”and their families in the homes.

The organization’s office space has served primarily as a place to register volunteer mentors, but BBBS has proven over the past year that it can even do so virtually.

A little over a month after the start of the pandemic, “we had really found our rhythm as a team, working in a virtual space,” said Gant.

“We were able to continue to recruit ‘big’ and are even more effective because we can do it by video”, interviews, selects and trains volunteer mentors.

In-person mentoring was discontinued during stay-at-home orders, but BBBS mentors were still able to connect during the first few months of the pandemic with their “little ones,” whether through phone contact or virtually, he said. she declared.

Last summer, as DPD and other schools in Wayne and Oakland counties began providing devices to allow children to connect and WiFi services became more readily available, mentorship that typically has taking place in the community was done online, Gant said. And by September, he was ready to go fully virtual with school-based mentoring programs.

BBBS served around 600 children last year, up from around 750 before the pandemic. Gant expects that number to drop to around 500 or slightly more this year as the organization strives to save money.

It projects a budget of $ 1.2 million this year, down from about $ 1.4 million last year (down about $ 200,000 from projections at the start of the year. .)

At the start of the pandemic, BBBS had around six weeks of operating cash flow after exhausting much of its reserves to cope. pension obligations, she said. Now it has five to six months of operating cash flow, thanks to the flexibility of donors last year in redeploying grants to operational needs and strategic planning and new support, including: 140 $ 000 from Amazon, $ 20,000 Emergency Operating Grant from United Way of Southeastern Michigan, Small Business Grants from Detroit Economic Growth Corp and Wayne County, and $ 144,000, Protection Program Loan pay checks on the first draw. The association just got a second draw of $ 138,000, said Gant.

“We have budgeted conservatively this year because we are still not sure about the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic,” Gant said. Staff.

“Every organization needs a rainy day fund; the pandemic has shown us that.”

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