By Annette Pinder
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) helps children throughout Erie, Niagara, and the Southern tier, reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with caring volunteer mentors. BBBS has been engaged in this work for over 49 years, impacting the lives of thousands of youth. The children (Littles) are matched with caring adults (Bigs), who meet for a just a few hours a month in a relationship that benefits both in innumerable ways.
Researchers say children who are matched and provided with this type of support are 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs; 27% less likely to begin using alcohol; 52% less likely to skip school; and 33% less likely to hit someone. They are also more confident of their school performance and get along better with their families.
Volunteers come from every background, race, religion and ethnicity, and include high school and college students, people who work, and retirees. Volunteer can choose community-based mentoring, in which Bigs and Littles meet at mutually convenient and flexible times to engage in mutually enjoyable activities. Site-based mentoring occurs in structured settings, such as a school or community center, engaging in fun educational, recreational, and cultural activities planned by a site coordinator. One such program takes place at Enterprise Charter School in Buffalo, were Bigs and Littles meet on Tuesdays from 4 to 5:30 pm.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to participate in the community-based program and have reliable transportation to transport themselves and the child to and from activities. Those who are younger can apply to volunteer in the site-based mentoring program. Learn more at www.biggertogether.org, or call 873-5833. To complete a volunteer application, visit www.beafriend.org/volunteer/sign-up-now.