Millions of children need a caring adult role model.
When children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and to focus on academics. Today's youth face a variety of challenges, and being matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister can help them navigate these challenges and reach their potential.
What's New from Big Brothers Big Sisters
Eyes Wide with Potential
Little Sister Starr was matched with Big Sister Marilyn when she was 5 years old. At the time, she was being raised by her mother and her grandmother, and her mom was struggling with health and addiction issues. It would have been easy for Starr to grow up with a limited view of what was possible for her, but spending time with Marilyn helped her avoid that. “I have looked at Marilyn’s house and thought ‘I can have a house like this,’” Starr says. “I can have a bedroom like this. I don’t have to live in public housing anymore.” With Marilyn by her side, Starr knows her potential is unlimited.
A Big Who Delivers
When Hurricane Harvey was about to hit Houston, Big Brother Andrew called his Little Brother Javier’s mom to make sure they had the supplies they needed. A single mom working constantly to make ends meet, she hadn’t yet had a chance to go to the store to buy things like extra bottles water and packs of batteries. “I still remember when I got home from work and looked at the food and the necessary things that Andrew had brought us,” Javier’s mom says. “I wanted to cry because only a good-hearted person does that for other people and that person is Andrew.” The action was just another on the long list of times Andrew has been there for his Little Brother Javier and his family.
Despite Distance, Match Continues to Blossom
Just as her match with her Little Sister Amari was approaching the one-year mark, Big Sister Lindsay got some big news – she would be starting a new job. The one catch was that she’d have to move two hours away. The last thing she wanted to do was end her relationship with Amari, who had already experienced so much loss and change in her life. Faced with the decision of closing her match with Amari or seeing her less often, Lindsay talked through the options with their Match Support Specialist and then Amari’s grandmother before deciding to keep the match going and making the most of their less-frequent visits.
Little Brother Jolen’s mom says she knew early on how important it would be for Jolen to have someone to look up to, so she enrolled him as a Little when he was just 6. “His father had been incarcerated since he was a baby, and I wanted him to have a network of positive men doing positive things,” Jolen mom says. When Jolen was 9, he finally got his Big Brother. He was matched with the Murray, who he calls “Mr. Miller.” Last June, after five years of being the role model that Jolen needed and his mom wanted, Murray was named the National Big Brother of the Year.
When Little Sister Saleen was 6 years old, she lost her father. At school, her teacher knew she wasn’t coping well with the loss, so they referred her to Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was matched with Myra, who became her Big Sister and began visiting her at school once a week. The two connected instantly, but their match hasn’t been without obstacles. Early on, Myra noticed patches of Saleen’s thick brown hair were missing, and discovered she was pulling out her hair to cope with the loss of her father. With the guidance of her Match Support Specialist, Myra decided to bring supplies to Saleen’s school and help her make a memory book about her father, so they could talk about the happy, positive memories she had of her dad. In June, when Myra was recognized as the National Big Sister of the Year, Saleen stood confidently next to her as she accepted the award and received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Jacquelyn knew the toll that having an incarcerated parent could take on a child, as her father had been incarnated most of her life. When she heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Amachi program, which matches mentors with children who have incarcerated parents, she signed up to be a Big Sister to help a child in a familiar situation.
When Monterro was 6, he was already reading at a fifth-grade reading level. Monterro’s mom was proud of her son’s intelligence, but as a single parent with health problems, she feared not being able to help Monterro reach his full potential. She heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters and signed Monterro up to be a Little, hoping that a Big Brother might be able to do for Monterro what she couldn’t. Her expectations were exceeded when he was matched with Big Brother Kyle.
How does Big Brothers Big Sisters help Kasaius?
When Big Brothers Big Sisters works to match a Little with a Big, we take into account the needs, personality, interests, and goals of both the child and the adult volunteer. We introduce the Little and his or her family to the Big slowly and make sure everyone is fully committed to the match before it is made official. Little Brother Kasaius is outgoing and up for anything, so he needed a Big who was creative and had a variety of interests.
Children like Kasaius get the most out of their one-to-one relationship with their Big when the Big, the parent or guardian, and the child talk openly with their Match Support Specialist. Working as part of the team helping the child succeed, the Match Support Specialist can help identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and connect the family with essential services.
When Kasaius’ Big Brother saw the email from BBBS saying that there were spots open in a free acting class, he jumped at the chance to take Kasaius. BBBS affiliates across the country provide activities for Bigs and Littles and also alert Bigs to opportunities in the community. This enables Bigs to get to know other Bigs, who might be experiencing similar things and who might have great suggestions for more new activities.
Screening and Training
Child safety is Big Brothers Big Sisters’ highest priority. To achieve the highest standards possible, we work constantly to review and strengthen our background check systems as new best practices in the industry emerge. We also make sure our Bigs and our staff have the training and resources they need to help Littles on their path to success.