By AMBER NEVILLE
DANIEL C. CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
“I volunteer because I truly believe it’s relationships we create that will change the world for the better,” says Jennifer Ashbaugh, the marketing and recruitment coordinator for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma Tulsa office.
Ashbaugh is an active Tulsa Young Professional and very passionate about her job with BBBSOK. “I have the greatest job in the world!” Ashbaugh exclaims. “I get to talk to people about the wonderful opportunity it is to be a ‘Big Brother’ or a ‘Big Sister’ and how becoming one will change their life.”
Ashbaugh grew up in Claremore and graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor’s degree in English. Upon graduation, she traveled to Belfast, Ireland to perform peace and reconciliation work for Protestant and Catholic charities. When she moved back to Tulsa to be closer to family, her experience and education earned her a place with BBBSOK in Tulsa.
Ashbaugh joined the Tulsa’s Young Professionals to network and plug back into the Tulsa community and has been active for over three years. Currently, Ashbaugh serves on the “Next Generation Leadership” work crew of TYPros. The crew’s mission is to develop strategies to promote leadership opportunities and education for young professionals. The crew works in the community to sponsor events and leadership series held around Tulsa.
Ashbaugh also serves as a Theta Alum at TU and is on the Board of Directors of Presbyterian Women as a young member helping to recruit young members.
Ashbaugh is also a “Big Sister” herself. She says she became a “Big” after hearing all the stories of how it is to make a difference in a child’s life.
BBBSOK offers two programs to “Big’s.” The Community Based program, for students ages 6 to 16, allows “Big’s” to be a part of a child’s life in settings designed to mentor a “Little” in community activities.
The second program is a school-based program for students in grades one through five and is the program where Ashbaugh is a “Big” and has the commitment of one-hour a week to a “Little” in an academic setting. This program is perfect for those who want to mentor a “Little” but have a busy schedule and other areas where they dedicate their time. “It’s very easy for me to just block out that extra long lunch-hour once a week.” Ashbaugh states, “An alarming 83 percent of children in Tulsa Public Schools are living at, or below the poverty level with a 50/50 chance that they will graduate from High School.”
BBBSOK does not currently have the funding to do long-term research on graduation rates of those in the Community-based program. However, following “Littles” over a two-year span has found that having a Big Brother or Big Sister increased a child’s attendance and grades and also increased a child’s belief that he or she would attend and graduate from college. Therefore, BBBSOK programs have helped to increase the number of student graduates in Tulsa Public Schools and beyond.
In her downtime, Ashbaugh’s hobbies include running, reading and more recently, knitting scarves for family and friends. Her involvement in TYPros this year includes a hallmark event between BBBSOK and TYPros with Bowl For Kid’s Sake night, which was held April 14. The event features TYPros having fun in a relaxed and active setting while raising money for BBBSOK.
TYPros alone raised over $12,000 for BBBSOK. There are about 100 TYPros members (approximately 5 percent of the membership) who are actively volunteering as a “Big.” Look for another opportunity to learn more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister this summer as a “Big For A Day” by attending a Tulsa Talons game on June 6, by visiting the BBBSOK Web site at http://www.bbbsok.org/ or contacting Jennifer Ashbaugh directly at (918) 744-4400.
Editor’s Note: Tulsa-area leadership has been working hard over the past few years to keep young professional talent in the region. One organization that has been very effective in keeping young talent local is Tulsa Young Professionals, known by its acronym “TYPros.” This is the fourth of the GTR Newspapers monthly series spotlighting young Tulsa leadership. Greater Tulsa is fortunate to have young talent contributing to its betterment.
The Tulsa Young Professionals, or “TYPros,” is a group of diverse young professionals, whose typical ages range from 21-40, working together to showcase Tulsa as an excellent place to live, work and play. The mission of TYPros is to retain and attract young talent, while focusing on fostering Tulsa’s next generation of leadership. Membership is free. TYPros provides its members with opportunities to get in front of and build relationships with local community and business leaders. For more information or to become a member, visit www.typros.org.