On Saturday, August 25, a typical, hot Texas summer evening, a sold-out crowd attended the winter wonderland themed gala called the Ice Ball benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. It was “the coolest place to be in Austin.”
Unlike most galas, there was no sit-down dinner. Instead, this event gave guests the opportunity to mix and mingle while sampling local cuisine and frosty cocktails from restaurants including Crú, Moonshine, Olive & June, Maudie’s Tex-Mex, Abel’s on the Lake, Salty Sow, Roaring Fork and Finn & Porter.
This year, the Ice Ball raised more than $300,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, enabling them to continue mentoring hundreds of children in the area. Former board member Craig Moore still proudly supports the organization and the Ice Ball. He cherishes the organization’s one-to-one mentoring model that helps kids facing adversity achieve measurable outcomes leading to lifelong success.
It’s evident that the organization is making a positive impact on Central Texas children. Last year, volunteers served 1,500 children in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties. More than 97 percent of the children they served stayed in school, improved their grades and avoided early parenting. They also awarded $45,000 in scholarship funds to more than 70 students who were pursuing higher education. According to the organization’s website, 67 percent of former “littles” surveyed agree that their “big” played a role in their decision to attend college.
For more than 40 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas has been pairing children, ages 6-16, with supportive adult mentors who build friendships and offer encouragement and support to each child. Big Brother Juan Wah was in attendance Saturday night. Wah has been a Big Brother for a year and is one of several bigs organizing a “Boxing Day” for the littles. While his Little Brother has a liking for boxing, he also has a problem with fighting. Wah hopes that “Boxing Day” will help teach his little, and others, that fighting should only be in the ring. The littles will also have the opportunity to meet an Olympic boxer!
Mentoring is a fulfilling experience for Big Brothers and Big Sisters as they encourage their littles to overcome barriers and reach their full potential. It’s also a valuable experience for Little Brothers and Little Sisters as they learn the importance of mentoring. One day, these littles might find themselves in the mentor role. If so, then they’ll know what it means to be supportive of someone in life and they’ll be able share their wisdom and experiences with them.
It seems like no matter how old you are or where you come from, you can always benefit from having a mentor. Michelle Houp of Creative Tonic has been donating her time and talent as a graphic designer to the Ice Ball for the last six years. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas is one of three organizations she supports by doing pro bono work. For her, it always feels good to give back. When I learned she wasn’t just a graphic designer but an entrepreneur as well, I had to ask, “Who is your mentor?”
Houp’s mentor is Barb Fabing, a very successful executive at Arc Worldwide. She’s learned a lot from her over the years. Houp says Fabing has taught her the skills she needs to be a successful designer and pushes her to go beyond her limits. Because of her understanding and encouragement, she’s been a crucial part in Houp’s personal growth and professional achievements.