b's 5th annual 10 People to Watch Under 30 in Baltimore [Pictures]
The most creative and successful young Baltimoreans right now.
Image 10 of 11
Kaitlyn Thomas( Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun / May 21, 2014 )
You come to work, then settle in for eight hours at your desk. Just a typical day, right? Not if you're Kaitlyn Thomas.
As the development manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, 23-year-old Thomas has her hand in all sorts of special projects to promote mentoring relationships between youth and adults in the community.
"Basically I come in every morning and see what's going on, and that's what I do," she said. "Events, outreach, recruitment -- it's always something different."
As a self-described "take what life throws at you and run" kind of person, Thomas has never been one for routine. After graduating from McDaniel College in 2011 with a liberal arts degree she wasn't sure what to do with, she began volunteering. Pretty soon a job opened up at BBBS, and she hasn't looked back.
Now, Thomas has been with the agency for 2 1/2 years working on everything from community outreach to fundraising. Her favorite experience has been a special project called "Mentoring Monologues" (inspired by "The Vagina Monologues") that she organized in January for National Mentoring Month.
"Like the individuals in that play, the youth and adults in our programs all have great stories to tell," Thomas said. "They're making changes and making a difference in their communities -- it's powerful and inspiring."
Thomas worked with Baltimore Improv Group to co-produce the variety show, which featured Bigs and Littles singing, reading poetry and more. The end result was a performance that engaged not just mentors and mentees, but the surrounding community -- a particular accomplishment since a large part of Thomas' work involves informing the public about BBBS.
"It's not that a certain number of kids still need a mentor," she explained. "As long as there are kids out there, we'll need more mentors."
Thomas also works with No Kill Harford, an organization that is trying to build a community where no adoptable pet is put down. Although it may seem unconnected to BBBS, Thomas says that isn't the case.
"Most people wouldn't think that an animal advocacy organization would have any ties to a youth mentoring organization, but that's not true at all," she said. "We both have the same core mission -- to help people and to better our community."
Thomas plans to bring the two organizations together this summer through community pet days, where No Kill Harford will provide vaccines, microchips and other services to underserved neighborhoods while BBBS does outreach for Littles and their families.
"It's really all about connecting the dots," she said of the collaboration. "When organizations and like minded individuals come together, we become stronger and real social change happens." -- Laura Lefavor