It All Starts Here
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: Merrill, Wausau, Abbotsford, D.C. Everest, Mosinee & Marathon.
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
The vision of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin is that all children achieve success in life.
- 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 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.
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.
Jerry Lyon is the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin. He has been with the agency since April 2016. Jerry lives in Merrill with his wife, Molly, and children, Wyatt and Jacey. In his free time, he loves to watch his kids in their numerous activities, golf, and is an avid muskie fisherman.
Linda Koepke is the Development Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin. She has been with the agency since 2002. Linda lives in Kronenwetter with her husband, children, and two dogs. In her free time, she loves to spend time up-north with her family, read, and fish.
Beth Kohnert is the Program 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 husband and three children, Beth enjoys watching Packer games, NASCAR races and driving her Studebaker.
Enrollment & Match Support Specialist - Merrill
Lexi Grzanna is the Merrill Enrollment & Match Support Specialist for BBBS of Northcentral Wisconsin since 2018. Lexi lives in Merrill where she enjoys camping, kayaking, watching/playing sports, walking her dogs, painting, and spending time with her fiancé, family, and friends.
Enrollment & Match Support Specialist - Abbotsford, Athens, Marathon, & Mosinee
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.
Enrollment & Match Support Specialist - Wausau
Megan Belanger is the Wausau Enrollment and Match Support Specialist. She joined the agency in August 2018. Megan lives in Edgar with her husband. 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.
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.
Scott Jackman | President
Eaton, John, Overbey & Jackman Law Firm, LLC.
Michael Heinrich | Vice President
Church Mutual Insurance Company
Derek Hoff | Secretary
Northwestern Mutual Insurance
Bob Heyman | Treasurer
Bob Lamovec | Past President
Office Enterprises, Inc.
Eric Anderson | Director
Brian Hoover | Director
Greenheck Fan Corporation
Trina Knospe | Director
Merrill Area Public Schools
Kevin Porter | Director
Intercity State Bank
Jeff Knusalla | Director
Equity Design Group
Sammantha Lewitzke| Director
Charlie Sann | Director