Big Brothers Big Sisters Boogie The Night Away

After six-months of planning, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Club at SUNY New Paltz  (BB/BS) held an eight-hour dance-a-thon titled “Dance for Kids’ Sake” last Sunday from 1 to 9 p.m. in the Student Union.

The dance had different DJ’s and musical genres every hour. The music included Zumba, 80s, 90s, hip-hop, R&B and current hits. The event featured a performance by a local dance troupe and giveaways.

At the event, there was free food such as salad and pizza provided by Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS), T-shirts for team members, and 30 raffle prizes that were donated by local merchants and given away every hour.

The performer for the night was the Energy Elite dance troupe from the Center for Creative Education in Kingston. Energy Elite is a hip-hop dance group consisting of Kingston High School students and is run by a former worker for the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency according to Colleen Mountford, the president of the Ulster County chapter.

The event was held in order to raise awareness for the club on campus and the funding for the organization’s Ulster County chapter because this past year funding was reduced due to federal budget cuts.

“The funding for the organization [in Ulster County] is getting cut by the government, so now more than ever we need to raise both money and awareness,” said Vice President and Big Sister Stephanie Zubrowski. “Big Brothers Big Sisters has the ability to change kids’ lives for the better — kids need mentors, someone to look up to and to be a positive influence in their life.”

The money raised by the dance-a-thon will help the group’s programs run for the rest of the year, according to Mountford.

Although this was the first time the BB/BS club held a dance-a-thon, other colleges have found this to be very successful. St. John’s College has held dance-a-thons for five years now, according to Mountford. New Paltz has never done something like this before but organizers said they were hoping to learn a lot.

Zubrowski  said even though they set lofty goals their hope is that everyone in attendance gave something from their heart and had a great time.

The BB/BS club members said they are very committed to helping their community and making differences in children’s lives.

“I’m totally a believer and convert that college students can make a bigger impact than anyone,” said Mountford. “They show up every week on Wednesdays or Thursdays and they do great for an hour and a half —no excuses.”

Zubrowski has been a member of the BB/BS club since December 2009 and helped make it a campus organization last spring along with President Kiersten Bergstrom, a three-year member of the Ulster County chapter.

“The club on campus is an offshoot of people that have been mentoring for us for years,” said Mountford. “[This] Club is there to raise awareness and do fundraisers to offset costs of the base program in Kingston.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters programs have been around for 107 years, according to their website, and they continue running throughout the nation.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters is a evidence based program,” said Mountford. “It works and they can prove it.”