National Mentoring Month Recap
A Call for More Volunteers Who Speak Different Languages and Who Identify as Male: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts Celebrates National Mentoring Month
January is National Mentoring Month. Over the past few weeks, you may have seen some of our Bigs and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts President & CEO Mark O’Donnell in the news sharing their mentoring experiences and why now more than ever youth need additional support. Starting this past Fall, the agency has seen an influx of guardians registering their children for our programs. However, a gap in volunteers who speak different languages and who identify as male is keeping youth on the waiting list to be matched.
Hear more from two of our mentors about their experiences as Bigs and how they are making a positive impact in their Littles’ lives.
A recent ice cream outing with Karen Rodriguez’ Little Sister Rosela was captured by WCVB-TV’s 5 for Good. Karen, a bilingual speech language pathologist in the same system where Rosela attends, immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia when she was 7-years-old. She credits being able to speak Spanish with her Little Sister, whose family hails from the Dominican Republic, for helping to build trust between them. Although their cultures vary – for example they each celebrate Christmas a little differently – they understand each other in a way that others don’t. Since being matched, the duo has explored marine life in Boston, gone roller blading and bowling, dined out and everything in between. They joke Rosela is Karen’s mini-me.
“When I first met Rosela, she was quiet and talked very little, but following a couple of outings, she slowly began to open up about the loss of her father by asking various questions about death and its meaning,” says Karen, whose cousin’s experience with her own Big Sister inspired her to become one. “Being able to provide a safe and comfortable, yet fun, one-to-one space for her to process her emotions and go through the grieving process enabled Rosela to break out of her shell. Today, she is happy, outgoing, and considerate of others. It’s been incredible to see her growth.”
Greg Lowe’s full circle mentoring story was covered by North Shore Magazine. Greg first came to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts when his single mother enrolled him into the program. He was matched with his own Big Brother when he was a young boy. Growing up, he hadn’t met many adults like his Big. The duo did everything together, from sharing a meal, to playing sports, to completing landscaping projects, including a stonewall that he still drives past today. Greg credits his Big Brother with helping to get him to and through college, where he obtained two degrees and has since worked in the healthcare field for over 25 years. The mentoring match has kept in touch through Greg’s adulthood, with his Big serving as Greg’s best man in his wedding. To pay it forward, the now 58-year-old is enrolled in the very same program that helped him as a child, this time as an adult volunteer mentor. Greg was matched with his Little Brother Trevor in 2018. The duo bonds playing basketball, exploring nature, and he recently took Trevor to climb his first mountain. As Trevor navigates eighth grade and begins to think about high school and beyond, it’s important for Greg to be there as a consistent resource and source of social, emotional, and academic support.
“I wasn’t exposed to people like my Big Brother where I came from in terms of his job, his college degree, his connections,” says Greg. “My Big opened my eyes to possibilities for my future and I now have friends and an education I may not have had otherwise. I want to give that same experience to Trevor.”
We need your help!
In 2022, the agency made 800 new mentoring matches, serving more than 3,300 youth, 82 percent of whom hail from BIPOC households. Volunteers referred to as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, dedicated more than 170,000 service hours to their mentees, referred to as Little Brothers and Little Sisters. And more than 800 companies, schools and community partners help to facilitate, support or further the nonprofit’s year-round one-to-one youth mentoring programs. We need your help to recruit more adults for our programs!
Anyone can become a mentor as the agency welcomes youth and adults of all races, ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities. Volunteers must be 18 years old or older and be able to commit a few hours a few times a month for at least a year and have a passion for positively impacting a young person’s life. For more information, to become a volunteer or to register your children, visit: www.emassbigs.org.