Ipswich’s Greg Lowe Celebrates National Mentoring Month with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts
Youth Mentoring Program Seeks More Male Mentors to Serve More Families
Big Greg Lowe with Little Trevor during a recent outing.
Ipswich, Mass. – January is National Mentoring Month. To celebrate, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts (BBBSEM) is honoring Greg Lowe, of Ipswich, one of the hundreds of volunteers for the state’s leading one-to-one youth mentoring program. The nonprofit partners with families to provide children, referred to as Littles with caring adult mentors, referred to as Bigs, who help them reach their fullest potential.
With research and proven outcomes at its core, BBBSEM creates matches based on shared interests, geography and personality and serves as a consistent resource for Bigs, Littles and their families. The organization serves as a bridge between communities and community partners, helping to address larger social issues, such as race and education gaps.
Lowe first came to BBBSEM 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 in Lynn, he hadn’t met many adults like his Big Brother. 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. Lowe credits his Big with helping to get him to and through college, where he obtained 2 degrees and has since worked in the healthcare field for over 25 years. The mentoring match has kept in touch through Lowe’s adulthood, with his Big serving as Lowe’s best man in his wedding.
To pay it forward, the now 58-year-old therapeutic massage specialist is enrolled in the very same program that helped him as a child, this time as an adult volunteer mentor. Lowe 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 Lowe 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 Lowe. “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.”
A national study of 950 youth from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies showed that positive relationships between Littles and their Bigs have a direct and measurable impact on children’s lives. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ matches consistently spend more time together, and continue as a match for longer periods, than those in other mentoring programs. Results also showed Bigs help Littles learn right from wrong, make better life choices, do better in school and advance to the next grade level.
Currently, the agency has a growing list of children waiting to be matched. However, a big hole in volunteer sign ups is delaying the process. More than two times as many boys are waiting for mentors as girls. To combat this issue, BBBSEM President & CEO Mark O’Donnell is calling on men, like Lowe, to step up as mentors.
“The number of boys on the waiting list to receive Big Brothers is currently in the hundreds,” says O’Donnell, who walks his talk as a former two-time Big Brother. “Over 75 percent of our Littles come from single-parent households, a majority of which only have a mother or female guardian looking for a consistent and caring male role model in their children’s lives. We need male volunteers, especially men of color and those who speak Spanish, to step up for our children. The more male-identifying Bigs we have, the more families we can serve.”
Anyone can become a Big 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.
In its 73rd year, BBBSEM has created and served more than 20,000 matches. The nonprofit is now enrolling and matching Littles and Bigs. For more information, to register your children or to become a volunteer, visit: www.emassbigs.org.