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BBBS Seeks 'Bigs' to form Life-Changing Relationships

T'Sean of Big Brothers Big Sisters

Ten-year-old T’Sean has experienced a lot of loss in his short life, starting with the murder of his father in a gang-related shooting when he was just three. T’Sean is doing well, but as his teen years get closer his mother wants to do everything she can to make sure her son doesn’t experience the violence that ended his father’s life.

It seems that the odds are stacked against T’Sean, and he isn’t alone. While the stories and backgrounds may differ, there are hundreds of local children who all have one thing in common; because of factors out of their control, they will have a more difficult time succeeding in life than their peers. These children would benefit from having a mentor - an additional caring, consistent adult in their lives.

In response to the large number of local children who need a mentor, Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring has set an ambitious goal of serving an additional 250 Kalamazoo County children in 2017. Mentors can be Big Brothers Big Sisters, Big Couples, or Big Families; however, Big Brothers are especially needed because there are always more boys than girls waiting for ‘Bigs’.

One now-grown Little Brother who had the advantage of having a Big Brother, is Rob Bradford. Bradford says he still feels the example set by his Big Brother Charlie. “I got to see him be a husband and I also got to see him be a dad.” Bradford has taken the lessons gathered from Charlie and put them into practice in his own life, with his family and his job, as a middle school teacher.

“He (Big Brother-Charlie) chose to step into someone’s life that he had no obligation to be a part of, that he never would have met or known or seen without Big Brothers Big Sisters,” and that Bradford shared, made a positive impact on his life.

Research shows that a mentor improves a child’s chances of succeeding in life. The most recent data available from surveys of children served by our agency show that after having a ‘Big’ for just one year:

  • 96.6-percent have improved self-confidence
  • 91-percent are less likely to engage in risky activities that could limit their future success
  • 90-percent perform better in school

Also key to the future success of the children is to keeping them in school to prepare them for further education or entry into the workforce.

Our community members can help make this happen by sharing as little as four hours a month, for at least a year. Traditionally ‘Bigs’ will spend time with their ‘Littles’ two or more times a month, usually for a couple of hours at a time. Don’t want to take away time from your own family? Then volunteer together as a Big Family, or Big Couple and see as demonstrated in this video how three, now grown ‘Littles’ were positively affected by the program and what it meant to them.

Remember if you can’t volunteer as a ‘Big’, skill-based volunteers are needed to assist in and around the office. Also always needed are donations of essentials, and people who will advocate for the programs by encouraging friends and family members to become ‘Bigs’.

Get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters and be one of the mentors to the 250 youngsters in need of your time. Make a difference and help our local children change their lives for the better, forever!

For more information check out our Facebook page, or call 269-382-6800 ext. 118 and ask for Cathy.

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