Littles In Need of Bigs

by Terry Watson | May 5th, 2011
Big Brother And Big Sister

Big Brother and Little Brother (Photo by Amanda Cox)

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greensboro offers a unique opportunity to serve youth in our community because the focus of the program is on building one-on-one relationships between volunteers and youth who are in need of mentors. The reasons children come to the program vary but they all share the need for encouragement.

 

The majority of the children are from single parent households. Parents are out of the picture for a variety of reasons such as death, abandonment, mental illness or incarceration. One of the most important roles mentors can play in the life of children is that of a friend who encourages them to stay in school and work towards higher education. Many of the little brothers and sisters go on to become the first person in their family to attend college.
While there are many outstanding big brothers and sisters, the need grows daily. A disproportionate number of the children on the waiting list are African American males. The agency strives to support volunteers by offering ongoing training, free tickets to sporting events, group activities, and free passes to ArtQuest and the Natural Science Center. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greensboro is fortunate to operate under the umbrella organization, Youth Focus, because the parent agency offers many support services such as counseling, substance abuse treatment and crisis care.
Volunteers are relieved to know that they are not expected to be social workers or counselors. Those jobs are covered. A little brother or sister just needs a friend. Mentors have the potential to influence choices their young friends make. Choices such as avoiding drug use and underage drinking can dramatically affect a young person’s quality of life. Something as simple as taking a child on an outing once a week and letting them know that you are interested in what is going on in their lives can have an enormous impact.

On December 10, 2010, Guilford County’s Gang Assessment research associates from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro presented their findings on gang activity in our area. They reported that having an involved parent was one of the biggest factors in deterring youth from gang involvement. Children whose parents are deceased, in prison or otherwise unavailable do not always have this basic support. An adult who is willing to spend a few hours once a week with one of the youth can be the involved person who makes the difference.
Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers reap personal rewards by sharing their time, but they also contribute to the long term stability and
wellbeing of our community at large, one child at a time.

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