It All Starts Here

Mentoring that makes a difference!

Who We Are

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin has been serving at-risk youth since 1976.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin is the gold standard in youth mentoring.  By matching children with a positive role model, we are building stronger communities one relationship at a time.

Big Brothers Big Sisters serves children ages 6 through 14 that are struggling emotionally, socially, academically, and behaviorally.  Currently, our service areas include: Marathon County, Abbotsford and the Merrill Area.  Our School-Based Program serves the districts of: Abbotsford, Athens, D.C. Everest, Marathon, Merrill, Mosinee, and Wausau.

Our Mission:

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.

Our Vision:

The vision of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin is that all children achieve success in life.

Guiding Principles

  • Commitment to quality and safety
    We are committed to one-to-one, safe and professionally supported mentoring with proven, measurable outcomes.
  • Dedicated to serving at-risk youth
    In a world of scarce resources, we will focus on youth receiving free/reduced lunch, in a single parent environment and/or who have a parent in the criminal justice system.
  • Accountability to our stakeholders
    We are committed to mutually beneficial relationships with our stakeholders and to building and funding our capacity for sustainable, quality growth.
  • Focus on diversity
    We will address our communities’ racial, ethnic and gender diversity in all aspects of how we operate.
  • Culture of performance
    We are a progressive organization that measures our impact and will recruit, build and retain the most effective team and Board.

Our Mentoring Works

Local research shows that positive relationships between youth and their mentors have a direct and measurable impact on children’s lives.  Youth served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin children achieve remarkable outcomes:

  • Confidence 84% 84%
84% of children served improved their level of confidence.
  • Competence 67% 67%
67% of children served improved their level of competence.
  • Caring 72% 72%
72% of children served improved their level of caring.

Our History

Our founder Jim Hoops saw a need to establish a mentoring program to help the youth of our community.  Jim formed a committee, and together they secured funding from private organizations, businesses and the United Way of Marathon County.  On October 12, 1976 Jim’s dream became a reality.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marathon County was officially registered with the State of Wisconsin.  Forty-three years later and many great things have happened.  We are now known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin and we have served thousands of children in a match relationship.  The staff at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin still hold our founder’s values and inspirations to continue to serve our communities with honest dedication to our children, family, volunteers and supporters.

Core Values

Mutual Respect We will treat everyone with the utmost respect at all times
Exceptional Service We will strive to have the absolute best customer service possible
Nurturing Relationships We will put the children and volunteers we serve at the center of all operations
Trustworthy We believe that trust is essential to serve our mission
Outcome Drive Everything that we do will be to provide the best possible outcome for the children we serve
Responsible We are responsible for the children we serve, our volunteers, our donors, and each other
Integrity We are committed to the highest standard of work and professionalism
Need Base We will work diligently for those that need our help the most
Grateful We are grateful to all who help us work towards our mission

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, religion, marital status, gender identity, and/or sexual orientation.

Meet Our Team

We, the staff of Big Brothers Big Sisters, together as a team, value integrity and positive relationships. We work collectively to make an impact on the lives of others and on our community through enthusiasm, compassion, and commitment to our mission.

Linda Koepke

Linda Koepke

Co-Executive Director

Linda Koepke is the Co- Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin. She has been with the agency since 2002. Linda and her husband, who are almost empty-nesters, enjoy reading, fishing, snowmobiling, traveling and hanging out with their dogs: Jake & Sophie. 

Beth Kohnert

Beth Kohnert

Co-Executive Director

Beth Kohnert is the Co-Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin. She has been connected with the agency since being a Big Sister in high school, but became an employee in June of 2012.  With her family Beth enjoys reading, playing games, driving her Studebaker, and having campfires. 

Ellen Grod

Ellen Grod

Enrollment & Match Support Specialist

Ellen Grod has been an Enrollment & Match Support Specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin since 2016. Ellen lives in Kronenwetter with her husband. She has two married children and five grandchildren. Ellen’s interests include supporting her grandson in all his sports, reading, growing lots of garlic, feeding the birds and traveling. Favorite place to visit is Alaska where her daughter resides.

Megan Belanger

Megan Belanger

Enrollment & Match Support Specialist

Megan Belanger is an Enrollment and Match Support Specialist. She joined the agency in August 2018. Megan lives in Edgar with her husband and son. Together, they enjoy cooking, spending time with family and friends, camping, traveling and hiking. They are working on completing the Ice Age National Scenic Trail- a 1,200 mile trail that winds through Wisconsin.  Another goal of theirs is to visit every state park in Wisconsin.

Emily Furlano

Emily Furlano

Enrollment & Match Support Specialist

Emily Furlano is an Enrollment & Match Support Specialist. She joined the agency in March 2021. Emily recently moved from Stevens Point where she attended college, to Birnamwood where she is now living with her boyfriend. In her free time, Emily enjoys spending time outside on the lake, hiking, skiing, and spending time with friends and family. Emily has been connected to the Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2018, when she first became a Big Sister. Emily is graduating from UW-Stevens Point in May 2021, and plans to continue her education by obtaining her masters degree through UW-Green Bay beginning in June 2021. 

Board Of Directors

Our board of directors consists of community leaders who share a passion for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin’s mission & vision.

Michael Heinrich | President
Church Mutual Insurance

Benjamin Streckert | Vice President
Ruder Ware

Nate Bartz | Secretary
Wipfli LLP

Kevin Porter | Treasurer
Intercity State Bank

Scott Jackman | Past President
Eaton John Overbey Jackman

Eric Anderson | Director
Aspirus

Keri Anne Connaughty  | Director
The Samuels Group

Alex Forer | Director
Larry Meyer Construction

Derek Hoff | Director
Hoff Private Wealth

Christine Gunderson | Director
UW-Stevens Point Wausau Campus

Trina Knospe | Director
Merrill Area Public Schools

Bob Lamovec | Director
Office Enterprises, Inc.

Sammantha Lewitzke| Director
Jeff Knusalla | Director
Equity Design Group
Charlie Sann | Director
Kocourek Subaru

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