June 4th, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

After watching the murder of George Floyd, I had to ask myself, “do black lives really matter?” If they did, why do we continue to allow systemic racism to permeate our nation’s fabric? As a mother, I struggled to find the words to comfort my own Littles adequately. Chants of “no justice no peace”, protests, and looting had rocked me to my core.

Now more than ever, I needed to lead my family, my community, and most importantly, the mothers of my Littles by unequivocally denouncing the racism most of us have experienced our entire lives. Social injustice enabled by a country designed to pick “winners and losers” with losers being sentenced to generational poverty and death must no longer be tolerated in a civil society. See, Black Lives Do Matter. They matter to me as a black mother and they matter to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget sound as your mentoring Agency. 

Being the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound does not make me immune from racism; nor does it make my two black sons exempt from racial profiling or potential death when they are pulled over by the police. They too can become a hashtag on social media. In my DNA, I am as much about dismantling systemic racism as I am about protecting my two black sons and all of the black boys we call Littles.

During these tragic and challenging times, supporting and comforting our Bigs and Littles with resources for discussions is essential. We can use this time as a great mentoring and teachable moment with our Littles’ parents. “We are all in this together and must realize that change is going to take all of us. We must be the agents of change and drum majors for justice,” BBBSA BOD member Ernest L. Greer said.

Let’s remember why we take pride in our history of successful and meaningful mentoring work. It is our mission to ignite the power and promise of ALL youth through meaningful one on one relationships. We don’t condone acts of racism or non-inclusive acts of any kind. 

The national and local protesting for black lives is a transparent image of hurt, loss, and anger that our country is currently experiencing and feeling. We stand together with those who have been impacted by this racial violence. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound believes that diversity within our communities is vital to our growth and development. Our values are centered on creating a place where Littles are welcomed, respected, appreciated, and able to be themselves and grow through a mentorship relationship. 

As an organization, we all have the opportunity to create impact and change. Let’s continue to ensure an improved and greater future for our Littles; therefore, leading to a changing society and a more level playing field. Thank you, staff, for being a part of ensuring that our leadership is reflecting the community that we serve. This includes who we recruit as Bigs to mentor our Littles. The work you do is so important. We exist for exactly times like these, especially in times where teachable moments abound. Moving forward, it is crucial to take on the role of being allies. We may not understand some situations because they are not our own life experiences. Still, we can be compassionate, uncomfortable, and act when we see injustice; especially when there are no cameras.

In the coming weeks, we will be holding virtual town halls to listen to our parents, Littles, Bigs, and community leaders. I want to be clear, we don’t have the answers, but we are committed to being a part of the solution. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, we know that mentoring can change a child’s life. Our goal is to use our platform to have open and honest conversations about racism while crafting community-based solutions that move our children forward. #comejoinus

We understand this is a hard time, and we encourage you to grieve and learn more about how you can take action and provide support. We have listed some supporting organizations. If you would like to share additional resources, have ideas, or need help engaging in the conversation, please follow us on social media. 

George Floyd Memorial Fund
Fundraiser For Breonna Taylor Petition And Fundraiser
Black Lives Matter
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

Best regards,

Paula Sardinas (Little Sister, Donor)
Pronouns: she/her/hers
President & CEO 
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound