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
Big Becomes a Role Model for Dealing with Parental Incarceration
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.
The Opposite of Boring
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.
Relationship Built on Trust and Honesty Leads to Little Sister Getting Help
One afternoon over burgers, Little Sister Alejandra shared with her Big Sister Jessica a story that changed their relationship and their entire lives. Jessica remembers her heart breaking as Alejandra revealed to her that she was experiencing a situation at home that no child should ever have to endure. “It still feels surreal, six years later, but I went into autopilot in contacting Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Jessica says. “With the help of my match support specialist, steps were taken to ensure Ale’s safety.” Alejandra is in a much safer place now, partly because she was able to open up to a trusted adult, her Big Sister. Building that trust took Big Sister Jessica’s time and dedication.
Growing up in Japan, Big Brother Toru felt lost. The pressure to succeed was overwhelming, and it wasn’t until he came to America that he felt that he had the support of mentors looking out for him. When he became a firefighter, and later a photojournalist, he found people who showed him the path forward. “In each job, I was blessed to have mentors who took me under their wing and guided me through the ups and downs of life and my career,” he says. Toru knew he wanted to make sure he helped someone who was feeling lost like he had, so he signed up to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He was matched with Little Brother Javi, who he helped find success not by applying pressure but by providing support.
At the beginning of Boshanna’s senior year, her best friend and her brother were involved in an incident that resulted in their arrest. It hit Boshanna hard. Big Sister Karen remembers it being one of Boshanna’s lowest points. “Boshanna was devastated and depressed,” she says. “She stopped going to school.” For four months, Boshanna didn’t attend school. Even when she faced truancy court, her dedicated Big Sister never lost faith in her. They talked about it, and Big Sister Karen let Boshanna know she was disappointed and that she felt graduating high school was crucial. With a new resolve to succeed both in and out of the classroom, Boshanna returned to school.
Gavin used to lie in bed, crying, because his dad showed no interest in being part of his life. Dealing with the pain of that crowded out everything else. He started struggling with his grades and getting in trouble at school. Gavin’s mom was worried about her son, so one of the resources she turned to was Big Brothers Big Sisters. Gavin was matched with Big Brother Nick, who he met with a big smile. Nick showed up with a set of goals, which turned out to be all their match needed.
Hidden beneath Sophie’s shy demeanor was an artist who just needed help being brought to the surface. Her Big Sister Lynne, turned out be that help, but it didn’t come easy. At first, Lynne struggled to find connection points with Sophie, but after the two began talking about books, the two established trust and respect in their relationship. The two characteristics would prove to be essential as they traveled out of the library and on a story book journey to find Sophie’s inner artist.
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.