Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Barbara Martin is the new-ish (as of July) Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Frederick County Maryland, located at #2 E. Church Street in the Historic District. I spent an hour with Barbara learning about BBBS in Frederick.
Barbara is infectious with her energy and passion for BBBS. Her entire professional experience has been in non-profits, including the Heartly House here in Frederick, as well as BBBS in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and other women’s, children’s and environmental service groups. She brings a fresh zeal and excitement to the Frederick BBBS. After living in Pittsburgh for the last 18 months, what brought Barbara back to Frederick was not only the warm and caring community that she experienced Frederick to be when she worked at the Heartly House, but also the opportunity to work for Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization that she knows is making a difference. Mentoring with BBBS makes a real, tangible difference not only in the lives of the children, known as “Littles” but also in the lives of the mentors, called “Bigs”.
“BBBS really makes a difference,” Barbara says. “It changes lives for the better. My reward is seeing that change in people’s lives.”
Making A Difference
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a preventative organization as opposed to corrective, which is what makes it so successful. The BBBS website reports success rates well into 70% for changed behaviors and attitudes in children that have been in mentoring relationships for a year or more. Real changes that matter in their lives in areas like self-esteem, school attitudes and performance, and better life choices. These real changes are what makes BBBS preventative, and a very worthwhile organization to support.
Mentoring kids often turns out to be just as much an opportunity for the Big as it is for the Little. Barbara had several stories to tell of Bigs who got much more out of the relationship than they had expected. Like the gentleman who received a text on New Year’s Eve from a child he had mentored three years earlier, thanking him for being such a good influence and role model. The opportunity to give on a personal level, in a way that makes a real difference tends to surprise Bigs with life-lessons and fulfillment that they didn’t expect.
It’s Not Rocket Science
What many fear is a daunting, difficult task, something they’re not trained or qualified for, turns out to be something very natural and fun. Sharing activities with littles that they both like to do, and having fun together. This poster from the new ad campaign says it all:
How Can I Help BBBS?
Glad you asked, because there are lots of ways to help, big ways and little ways, for individuals to businesses and organizations:
- Mentoring – Anyone can be a Big, there are no special skills or training required. The process involves an interview, a background check, drivers license check and a home visit. The staff works hard to make a successful match based on interests and personality, which only makes sense for a successful, fulfilling Big-Little relationship.
- Fund-raising – A large proportion of BBBS expenses are met by several major fundraisers, like the upcoming Annual Benefit Golf Tournament in October. You can find out details on the BBBS Facebook Page. Business and Civic groups are encouraged to get involved by sponsoring any of the fundraising events, or by endorsing their employees to participate in teams at events like “Bowl for Kid’s Sake” a Spring fundraiser that is a lot of fun.
- Business or Corporate Support – In-kind support from local Frederick businesses and organizations is a welcome and easy way to help BBBS with practical needs. Do you have some lamps you no longer need? or some office furniture? Can you print up some flyers for BBBS or put up some posters in your workplace? There are lots of ways to help.
- Invite BBBS to your next staff or office meeting. Barbara or one of the staff members would love to spend 20 minutes giving a presentation about what Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about.
Be sure to visit the BBBS Frederick Website and find out more about mentoring and supporting a worthwhile cause. “Like” BBBS on Facebook and keep up with the latest events, news and tips for mentoring.
Enjoy this cute PSA about Big Brothers Big Sisters: