Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mentoring a kid is more doable than you think!

One of my favorite quotes goes like this:  "If something is worth doing, it's worth doing well."  These are words I try to live by, and no where are they more important than in youth development. I have had the privilege of working for a wonderful youth development organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters, for 19 years and I am so very proud of the amazing work we do. Every January,  which is National Mentoring Month, we take time to Celebrate Success and spread the word about the power of one to one mentoring relationships! 

Did you know that there are 40 basic building blocks, called Developmental Assets, that every child needs to grow up successfully?  It turns out that there are instructions for child-raising, after all, but not all kids have equal opportunity to develop these assets. That's where Big Brothers Big Sisters steps in by recruiting, screening and training volunteers to meet regularly and consistently for at least a year with kids who need extra support and guidance in order to make it through the challenges of childhood. These volunteers are helping to develop critical assets like self esteem, developing hobbies, learning to trust, planning and decision making, caring about and service to others, boundaries and attitudes and expectations, honesty, responsibility, restraint, a commitment to learning, conflict resolution, interpersonal skills, a sense of belonging, purpose and a positive view of the future. Sound ah-mazing?  It is!  All of this can happen for a kid -- really! -- just by observing, interacting with and learning from a caring, positive role model.

So why isn't everyone doing it?  Most people think it's more difficult to mentor a child than it actually is. We often hear things like this: 
  • I'm too busy.  
  • What if I let them down?
  • I'm probably not role model material. 
  • What on earth will we do together?
  • What if they don't like me?  

The good news is that Big Brothers Big Sisters has all the answers for all these questions and more. 
Here's why being a Big Brother or Big Sister is 
One of the most doable volunteer opportunities ever

You set the schedule - Activities between you and your mentee (who I will now call your "Little Brother or Sister"*) occur when you plan them to occur.  Your "match" can be set up to meet weekly, every other week or once a month depending on the time you have.  As long as your Little and his/her parent know what to expect and there are good lines of communication, it can all work out for everyone's benefit! 

They're going to love you - Even if they don't show it, especially at first. It takes a while for relationships to develop, but trust us when we say that we have talked to enough kids who have grown up after being in the program and they all say they adored their Bigs, probably didn't show enough appreciation at the time, but couldn't imagine life without their Big in it. 

You get a mentor too - From the minute you sign up to be a Big, you have the support of the professional BBBS staff behind you.  Once you are paired with a child, your Match Support Specialist is there to help troubleshoot anything you need for the entire time you are in the program, like helping you figure out what to do together, and talking about whether you're being effective (most likely).  I have been matched for 12 years and my Match Support Specialist is kind of my mentoring therapist.  Shout out to Marcela! :) 

There is a unique opportunity coming up in a few weeks to come learn more about how you can be a part of this mentoring movement!  We'd love to see you there. 

Big Brother Santiago is Big Brother of the Year for all of Texas!

Please Join Us
National Mentoring Month Mixer
January 21, 2016
El Tropicano Hotel 
110 Lexington, San Antonio
5:30-7:30 pm

Help us honor our 2016 
Big Brother and Big Sister of the Year. 

Use National Mentoring Month as your excuse to get involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters in South Texas: 
*Although it has finally made its way into the dictionary, mentee is not really a word and we only use it because it is commonly accepted and understood. We prefer "Little," child, youth and/or student, or even client. 

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