New Big Brothers Big Sisters event aims to connect Ypsi families to low- or no-cost resources

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County (BBBS) will host The Big Little Fair, a new event aiming to connect Washtenaw County families to free or low-cost community resources, from noon-4 p.m. Sept. 10 in Ypsilanti.

The event will take place at Riverside Arts Center (RAC), 76 N. Huron St. in Ypsilanti, and several other locations in downtown Ypsilanti. Danni Murphy, marketing and outreach manager for BBBS of Washtenaw County, says the event is open to all Washtenaw County families, but it has a special focus on Ypsilanti.

"It's where our office is located and where most of our kids come from," she says. "We're making an intentional effort to be more 'boots on the ground' where the kids are."

RAC will host performances from artists in the Formula 734 project, Ypsilanti Youth Symphony Orchestra, and more. RAC will also host dance and theater workshops, and RAC's Off Center site will host an activity station. RAC Gallery will feature an interactive art exhibit called "Love is Love," with selfie stations. 

Murphy says BBBS' partnership with RAC is an extension of The Big Little Fair's focus on making connections.

"The idea behind the fair was that we spend all this time in the community building relationships between people, so maybe we should extend and build relationships between organizations like us that support family and youth," Murphy says. "That way, we can be more effective and make a bigger impact on the community overall."

RAC Manager of Operations Maggie Spencer says RAC and BBBS share a "focus on community engagement."

"Big Brothers Big Sisters fosters relationships and connections between individuals while RAC offers programs and events to bring larger groups together. The Big Little Fair is an opportunity to combine those two things," Spencer says. 

She notes that RAC is one of the low-cost resources available to families attending the fair. 

"Riverside is committed to offering a sliding scale model for all of our programs. Our vision is to make arts experiences accessible to everyone at low or no cost," Spencer says.

Several other locations will host events as part of The Big Little Fair. A "Parent Plaza" at the downtown branch of the Ypsilanti District Library, 229 W. Michigan Ave., will offer information about local organizations that support children and families. Attendees can join a docent from Embracing our Differences for a guided tour of the artwork that organization has placed in Riverside Park. Additionally, attendees are invited to a food truck rally at The YPSI, 218 N. Adams St. 

A detailed lineup of events and performers is available here

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of BBBS of Washtenaw County.