Have you ever really wanted to be invited to something but the invitation never came?
Have you ever accepted an invitation only to realize you’re not having a good time and just want to leave?
Maybe this party just isn’t for you. The vibe is weird. The food is unappetizing. You feel completely out of place. Now that you think about it, you were probably just another thoughtless invite. A room-filler. And now you’re standing awkwardly near the door wondering, “I don’t belong here. How can I leave in the fastest and least awkward way possible?”
Now, imagine that you get to the party, the hosts greet you, shows you around and introduces you to people. The guests are all engaging one another, including YOU! You feel like you’re a part of the party, not just in the room.
"I’m glad I was invited! Not sure if I know anybody but I think I’ll stick around. Oh, there’s food?! Hey! Are those wings?! Boom. Definitely staying.”
The point is, it just feels really good too, ONE: be invited and TWO: feel welcome once you get there.
That feeling captures my definition of “Diversity” and “Inclusion”. It’s all about meaningful invitations that produce significant conversations, regardless of differences among the group. Perhaps, the invites are sent specifically because of their differences in order to realize that they have more in common than they thought. And yes, that includes the wings and a cheese tray.
Big Brothers Big Sisters KC wants our Littles, Bigs, donors, staff, and supporters to feel like they’re not only invited to our party, but that they BELONG here with us.
Every day our mission creates friendships between people from all walks of life and backgrounds. We help them find what they have in common so they can create a friendship around their differences and grow to appreciate those differences as well.
A group of people leading that charge is our very own Diversity Task Force.
The Diversity Task Force is a group of Bigs, staff and supporters who regularly meet under the leadership of our Board Chair, Andre Davis, to discuss and act on ideas that will increase Diversity amongst our Volunteers AND make sure that all of our Bigs, Littles, Staff, Boards, Committees, and Supporters feel like they BELONG.
The Task Force supports BBBSKC by spreading the word about the program and its benefits throughout the community, especially in minority communities that reflect the majority of children we serve. 80% of our Littles are African-American or Hispanic/Latino, so it makes sense that our program does everything it can to welcome and include those populations. There’s a variety of ways we do this, whether it's through educational and cultural panel discussions, the annual Rooftop Jam, partnerships with diverse community partners, fundraising as Most Wanted Honorees and Summer Bowl captains, or creating agency referrals and connections. We also work to ensure that our staff has a diverse and inclusive environment to thrive by participating in those activities as well. The more engaged our staff, Bigs, and supporters are, the better we can serve our diverse community.
I am extremely proud that our Bigs and Littles of all races, ethnicities, faiths, sexualities, socio-economic status, and other backgrounds have all been invited to be a part of our agency. More invitations are being sent out every day as we work to match the 450+ Littles on our waiting lists.
But remember! Those invitations are only HALF of the equation.
After the invite, comes the engagement, the belonging…and of course, the wings.
…unless, you have a dietary restriction of some sort. Then we’re of course happy to provide alternatives. We want you to eat too.