When we surveyed members last year, one of the themes was a desire for more service projects, according to Carole Mottaz.

Well, Carole has a proposal! Carole is chair of the board of our local Big Brothers, Big Sisters affiliate. As an affiliate, BBBS is allowed to “do anything” as long as they can fund it. When a funder recently did not renew support for 2017, leaving a $50,000 hole in their budget, they started thinking about ways they could generate more support for the affiliate. They are now looking at a new funding source, a second-hand sporting goods store in River Falls.
When we surveyed members last year, one of the themes was a desire for more service projects, according to Carole Mottaz.

Well, Carole has a proposal! Carole is chair of the board of our local Big Brothers, Big Sisters affiliate. As an affiliate, BBBS is allowed to “do anything” as long as they can fund it. When a funder recently did not renew support for 2017, leaving a $50,000 hole in their budget, they started thinking about ways they could generate more support for the affiliate. They are now looking at a new funding source, a second-hand sporting goods store in River Falls.

They have already worked with UW-RF to conduct a market research study, which concluded that there was indeed a market for such a store, as long as it has good visibility and good parking. She has located a spot on North Main Street, between Verizon and Tip Top Nails, which she believes would be a great location. She has recruited a “partner in crime,” Tom Bednarowski, who is going to focus on procurement; Carole will focus on sales. She has already recruited several key additional committee members, and is now looking for a civic group to partner with BBBS on the effort.

Carole is tentatively thinking that the store would be open from 3-7 weekdays and 10-2 on Saturday. The plan is that the store will be staffed at all times by two people, one person who “knows what they are talking about” – a volunteer from UWRF or RFHS sports teams – and a second “real person” – people like Rotarians. If Rotary is interested in partnering with BBBS, our role would be to help fill this second spot. This “second spot” person would be responsible for picking up a key from the bank, staffing the shift, closing out the shift and bringing the deposit to the bank. In exchange for this commitment, our club would be recognized with Rotary signage outside the store.

It costs about $1,000/year to support each “little” participating in the BBBS program. Much of this expense is related to supervision – the work of the program match specialists who closely supervise the relationship between the “bigs” and “littles.” Carole notes that while it is an expensive program, it is also effective, as there is extensive research supporting the positive impact of these types of mentorships. Here in our region, we run both the “traditional” program, where an adult in the community is matched with a child, and also a newer program at UWRF that matches children with university student mentors.

Carol noted that this proposed store will not only generate revenue to support BBBS, but will also provide local families with a lower-cost way to get the equipment needed for participation in sports. Carole noted that there is also significant research supporting the positive impact of participating in youth sports, in being part of a team, and she also hopes to leverage the store to help eliminate the financial barriers to participation.

A survey will be emailed within the next week to all members to assess the club’s interest in this project. She will need an answer by mid-March, as the plan is to open by August, and if we aren’t interested, she will bring the proposal to another service club. Carole has personally committed to lead the effort for three years, after which she is confident it will be up and running on its own.
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