Think back to the time when you listened to your favorite song over and over by pressing the “rewind” button on your tape player, when Saved by the Bell was a new episode each afternoon and you totally rocked your white slouch socks and white Keds.
Maybe you even owned and proudly wore a swishy tracksuit, too. That was fun.
Now, think about that someone who was a special mentor to you around that time. Think of someone outside of your family who you really looked up to.
Mine was Mrs. Wood, my fourth grade teacher. She was amazingly kind and thoughtful; always patient and willing to help me or any of her students with school work or whatever it was that we came to her with.
I was very lucky to have Mrs. Wood as a mentor. She was someone that set positive examples for me and those who were around her. Unfortunately, many young children in America aren’t as lucky to have someone like that in their lives as you and I may have been.
For the past three and a half years I have been involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest mentoring network. This non-profit organization matches adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”) age 6-18 in communities across the nation.
The goal is to provide a positive role model to children who are struggling with hardships, whether it be at home, school or elsewhere, and give them the opportunity to build a relationship that will impact their lives forever.
Here’s me and my Little. Her name is Darcy.
She’s nine years old. Her favorite restaurant is Olive Garden. She loves Shirley Temple's, going to movies, coloring and painting, and puppies. She loves puppies. When we are together, we spend most of our time laughing. We really bring out the best in each other.
I encourage you to get involved. Whether it’s with BBBS or another mentor program, the impact you can have on a child is beyond measure. It is a great commitment and sometimes time consuming, but the rewarding feeling of giving back to a child is unlike anything else. To watch them grow, to see them improving in school, helping them break out of their shell and noticing their self-esteem rise is something you can do and something so many children in America need.
Here’s some proof from BBBS. National research shows that positive relationships between a Big and a Little has a direct impact on their lives:
· More confident in their schoolwork performance
· Able to get along better with their families
· 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
· 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
· 52% less likely to skip school
· 81% of former Littles surveyed agree that their Big gave them hope and challenged their perspective of what they thought possible
Find out more information here: http://www.bbbs.org
Get volunteering information here: http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962345/k.E123/Volunteer_to_start_something.htm
To find a location nearest you and fill out an online application click here: http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5961203/k.61FA/Sign_up_to_volunteer.htm
Are you already involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters? Are you thinking about joining? Let me know your story!