After backpacking through Spain and living in the jungles of Costa Rica, Kevin Lollar has re-emerged as the new chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Frederick County.
In April of this year, Lollar left his position as director of development for the Housing Authority of the city of Frederick after six years on the job to embark on a 500-mile personal pilgrimage through Spain.
It was a sabbatical that eventually led him to the remote jungles of Costa Rica. Wanting to see the world and do a little soul searching and reflection in the process, Lollar — who is also an attorney — said he left Spain to hike through the jungle.
But on a return visit to Frederick in September, Lollar learned that Big Brothers Big Sisters was looking for a new leader. It was then that he made the decision to apply for the position, move back to his home in Burkittsville and end his sabbatical abroad.
Lollar, who has now been on the job two weeks, said he is confident it was the right decision.
“It just clicked with me,” said Lollar, sifting through paperwork at his new office at Big Brothers Big Sisters, 2 E. Church St., in downtown Frederick.
“I felt it was something I could do because of my upbringing. I grew up in a house with 17 kids and four women in the inner city of Washington, D.C. I was fortunate to have older people mentor me, and it gave me confidence.... It was a good fit for me.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national, nonprofit organization that helps at-risk children by matching them with an adult who serves as a mentor in a one-on-one relationship.
The national program dates back to 1904. The Frederick County organization has been place for 30 years.
Lollar said how he was raised is the reason he has a history of serving at-risk and vulnerable people.
As director of the city housing authority, Lollar helped to bring 55 new, modern homes to Bentz Street and oversee the opening of a community center.
He also helped install a plaque in 2009 near city hall in honor of Dred Scott, an African-American slave who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and two daughters in 1857.
Many in the city thought Scott’s recognition was needed to balance the presence of a nearby bust of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roger Brooke Taney.
Taney, a native of Frederick, authored the court’s decision in 1857 denying Scott and his family his citizenship.
Lollar has cited the installation of the Dred Scott plaque as his proudest moment.
Dario Cavazos, president of the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said in a news release that Lollar has proven himself to be a strong leader.
“He is a man with a very solid core who can get things done,” Cavazos said.
Lollar said he already has plans to move the organization forward.
“I want to increase the matches,” he said. “I want to get the numbers up, by getting the word out that we’re still here, and we’re still a mentoring program. I want to tell the story of Big Brothers Big Sisters again.”
With a $288,000 operating budget for current fiscal 2012, the program has 78 children-to-adult matches.
Lollar, who makes an annual salary of $72,000, said he would like to pair 150 children with mentors.
“It can be done,” he said. “We have a staff of five that could handle 150 matches.”
Lollar’s vision already has the support of one local business in Frederick.
The Muse, a gift shop on North Market Street, will be donating $2,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We were looking for an organization that benefits kids,” owner Whitney Bingham said. “We wanted to do something for kids.”
In June, Bingham, along with local artist and teacher, Courtney Prahl, started the “Lend a Hand,” fundraiser. For every $20 artist canvas sold at the store, $18 went to Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bingham said.
Those purchasing a canvas were then asked to paint a picture, and bring it make to The Muse to be auctioned off. The store held a silent auction in September, and of the 50 or so original canvases sold, 41 were auctioned off to the highest bidder.
“We had artists as young as 10,” Bingham said. “Every dollar went to the fundraiser. This was our first year, and we definitely want to do this again.”
Although she has only spoken with Lollar a few times, Bingham said she is pleased he has taken over the organization.
“I feel really confident in his capabilities and his initiative,” she said.