National Mentoring Month Big Spotlight – Thomas Duff
QUINCY, Mass. – January is National Mentoring Month. To celebrate, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts (BBBSEM) is honoring Thomas Duff, of Quincy, 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 Little Brothers and Little Sisters, with caring adult mentors, referred to as Big Brothers and Big Sisters, 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. 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 caring adults are needed to step up as mentors for children across the region.
“Now more than ever, children need additional support from caring adults,” says Duff, a financial adviser for larger institutions and volunteer Big Brother. “We have yet to see the full magnitude of the impact the pandemic has had on children, especially as it relates to their coping abilities and social-emotional development. Mentoring is one way in which we can fill in the gaps and help children to adapt to today’s world.”
Duff was first matched with his Little Brother Will, then age 13, in 2020 as society was beginning to open from the COVID-19 shutdown. They began their relationship virtually during which they discovered their shared passion for gaming. Now, the duo can often be found playing sports, talking about the future, and grabbing a bite to eat. Duff’s goal is to give the now freshman in high school the same care and support he has had from his own family.
“When I first met Will, he was fairly reserved and sought opportunities to engage more with people closer to his age in the community,” says Duff, who joined BBBSEM’s Young Professionals Group in 2021 to network with other Bigs and further support the nonprofit’s mission. “Now, he often leads our outings and keeps me up to date on his most recent successes. We can talk about anything from sports to what’s happening in the news. It’s been so cool to see him grow so much in such a short amount of time.”
BBBSEM’s Young Professionals Group is an assembly of emerging leaders who are enthusiastic about the nonprofit’s mission of helping transform the lives of children across the region. Each member makes the nonprofit one of their top philanthropic priorities. As a group, their primary role is to act as ambassadors with the goal of increasing awareness, volunteerism, and support for the organization. Members participate in steering and events committees and many, like Duff, serve as volunteer mentors as well.
“We are thrilled to celebrate Thomas as both a mentor and a member of our Young Professionals Group this National Mentoring Month,” says Mark O’Donnell, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts. “His dedication and passion for our mission is strong and we’re so grateful for the impact he’s making on his mentee and community.”
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.