Thursday, January 4, 2018

Kicking Off the Mentennial

In honor of San Antonio's 300th year celebration, Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas has kicked off a "300 Men" Campaign to recruit 300 male volunteers to become Big Brothers to kids on our wait list.

The campaign kicked off on New Year's Day and will run until Father's Day, June 17, 2018.  There are hundreds of boys on the wait list to get a Big Brother.  We hope to find mentors for 300 of them in honor of the Tricentennial. As we say in my home and in my office:  Any excuse for a celebration is a good excuse, but this is a really good excuse. 

My 15 year old, Zoe, created the portmanteau, "Mentennial" to describe this campaign. A portmanteau is a linguistic blend of words.  Zoe, like her sisters, is a wordsmith.  There is a great need to recruit more men.  Men don't heed the mentoring call to action as quickly or in as great many numbers as women do.  This leads to the following inequity in making matches  in the BBBS program:

  • 70% of kids who apply or are referred are boys
  • 30% of the volunteers who sign up to be Bigs are men
This results in a lot of "cross-gender" matches between Big Sisters and Little Brothers.  Don't get me wrong - these are some great relationships.  I had a Little Brother for many years, and we had such good times together and made lots of great memories over 10 years.  But boys need men as role models too, especially as they grow older.  When my Little Brother because a teenager, there were many times I though he could really use a Big Brother.  It's important to have someone who looks like you to look up to and emulate.

Therefore, it is even more important that we recruit Hispanic and African American men to be mentors because the majority of our boys are Hispanic and African American. The strategic plan developed by San Antonio's "My Brother's Keeper" Steering Committee states that:

"The staggering reality that young men of color are more likely to lag in reading proficiency, be expelled from school, or drop out of high school. Young men of color are more likely to be unemployed, enter the criminal justice system, and be victims of violent crime." 

This is called the Opportunity Gap, and it is exacerbated by the Mentoring Gap. A study commissioned by MENTOR conducted by Civic Enterprises in association with Hart Research Associates,  found that there are 9 million kids in our country growing up without any mentors. That means that 1 out of every 3 young people do not have the support of a positive caring adult . They lack the support many of us relied on as youth.

The findings of this study show a powerful mentoring effect as demonstrated by the life experiences of the young people surveyed and mentoring’s link to improved academic, social and economic prospects. If harnessed, this mentoring effect has the potential to help meet a range of challenges and strengthen our community and economy. Everyone knows that what kids need to succeed is access to positive role models and mentors who help them overcome the challenges of childhood and become successful, contributing members of society.  

Ways To Help
  • Sign up to mentor
  • Share this blog post
  • Share this 1 minute video:  Be a Big Brother
  • Share pictures from the video (below)
  • Tell a friend abut the campaign
  • Use the hashtags #300Men #300MenCampaign #tricentennialsa2018 #realmenmentor #mentoringmatters #whomentoredyou #sa300 #celebrate300 #satx
Also, there are Prizes! 
Men who sign up to become mentors (aka "Bigs") between New Year’s Day and Father’s Day will be entered into a drawing with a chance to win prizes.  Drawings will be held at the end of each month and on Father’s Day. Below is a sample of the prizes we have acquired so far:
  • A signed Tony Parker jersey
  • An all-team signed Spurs basketball
  • 2 game tickets 
  • A night stay at El Tropicano
  • Free Krispy Kreme doughnuts 

Our campaign will be more successful the more people we get to help spread the word. 
Here's to a successful campaign!

Previous posts I have written on mentoring: