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A Celebration of Mentoring

A Celebration of Mentoring

Some of the best minds in the field of mentoring - including leaders from across the Big Brothers Big Sisters network, policy makers, supporters, as well as a few big name celebrities - gathered to celebrate Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring programs and National Mentoring Month at the Mayflower Renaissance hotel in Washington D.C.

Held on the eve of MENTOR’s National Mentoring Summit Mentoring Works: Inspire. Achieve. Advocate, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America’s Mentoring Partners in Action: Successful and Safer Communities forum provided practitioners and policy makers alike an opportunity to network and discuss how Big Brothers Big Sisters’ evidence-based mentoring programs are part of the solution to Juvenile Justice problems in America.

An evening reception, sponsored by Lifetime Television, set the stage for an engaging and impactful forum. Two-time Super Bowl champion and alumni Little Brother Darrin Smith expressed his excitement about the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ recently launched alumni campaign. The campaign is geared at reuniting former Bigs, Littles, board members, staff members, and other alumni supporters with the organization. "I am so excited that Big Brothers Big Sisters’ celebration of National Mentoring Month 2013 is all about alumni," said Smith. “As an alumni of the program myself, I know just how fulfilling it is to get back involved with an organization that helped me so much.

The big news of the night came with the announcement of a brand new partnership with Grammy award-winning rapper EVE. The musician/actress has generously dedicated a song from her new album to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters. The song, "Make it Out This Town," debuted at the event to the captivated audience. In addition to the song, EVE also filmed a public service announcement for the organization and will promote the need for African-American male mentors. "I see what happens in our communities," she said. "We need more black men to step up and help the kids that need someone to look up to."

The forum began the following morning and brought together experts in the fields of mentoring and juvenile justice from across the country to discuss how they all could provide better and safer environments for children. "We mark a new beginning of mentoring today," said David Shapiro, president and CEO of MENTOR, during the opening ceremony.

During a panel discussion, Big Brothers Big Sisters subject matter experts and Juvenile Justice partners from across the country shared just how important and effective a solution mentoring can be in the lives of children facing adversity.

"The Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Survey is one thing that distinguishes us from other youth serving organizations," said Sandra LaFleur, Associate Vice President for Research, Evaluation and Innovation for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. "It is a tool that our staff is using to measure success in mentoring. It helps us to not only serve more kids, but it helps us serve more kids - better."

Among topics covered during the panel was the oft addressed fact that the number of individuals incarcerated at a young age is staggering. Francis Mendez, National Director of Juvenile Justice for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, summed up the potential impact that Big Brothers Big Sisters programs can have in the lives of children facing adversity when he stated, "Incarceration doesn't work - mentoring does."

Miss America 2012 Laura Kaeppeler lent her voice to the cause by moderating a powerful lunchtime panel featuring real life mentoring matches. Kaeppeler's personal platform during her tenure as Miss America was mentoring children with incarcerated parents - a topic that she knows all too much about. Growing up, her father was incarcerated during a critical time in her childhood. “Having a parent who is incarcerated is one of the biggest risk factors for having things fall apart in a kid’s life,” she said. “Thanks to my mentors that I’ve had since I was a little girl, I’ve ignored the naysayers and stayed focused on my dreams.” The stories that each match told truly emphasized the effect that mentoring had on all of the individuals involved - Bigs and Littles alike.

Incoming Director of Government Foundations & Corporate Philanthropy for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Rich Lewis challenged attendees to bring back ideas and workable solutions to their home communities. "Mentoring increases hope and decreases hopelessness," said Lewis. "The work you are doing is making a difference."

Everyone has the potential to make a difference. Get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters and bring that potential to life. Volunteer as a Big Brother or Big Sister, donate to help support the positive work of our professional staff, or find the method of involvement that is right for you. No action is too small to have a big impact. Start something today.

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