Who did you look up-to when you were a child?

January is National Youth Mentoring Month, so it seems appropriate to put a spotlight on a great mentoring organization.

Mentoring can mean different things to different people, but one thing I think we can all agree on, is that a quality mentor can have a positive lifelong impact on the child.  While some children find mentors through teachers, coaches, pastors and other role models, some need help finding the right person.  In our area we are fortunate to have an organization dedicated to this mission.

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) provides a proven structure that matches children with adults that can offer the greatest mentoring benefit. Once matched, they provide ongoing support to be sure that both parties are getting what they expect, if not greater. Beyond this, BBBS keeps the match active by providing engaging activities and supporting everyone involved.

I had personally been a “big brother” for a number of years and found the time together to be as rewarding to me as it was for the child.  I think we both learned from the experience and became better people as a result.  This was done through simple activities rather than formal structure or uncomfortable conversations.  We might go fishing, hiking, play a game, go sledding, or anything else that we agreed on, but he always knew that I could be counted on.

The overwhelmingly positive impact of BBBS is studied and documented.  Children get better grades, have higher self esteem and make better choices when they know someone cares.  This is not to say their parents don’t care, but sometimes it takes a friend to listen keep them accountable in a non parenting way.  So my guess as to why adults do not take the first step towards becoming a mentor involves fear that it takes too much time.  While you are making a commitment, it is generally about three hours per week or less if you check out the “school-based” program which usually involves lunch and possibly recess time.

Want to learn more about the BBBS programs in the McDonough County area, call Pete at 309-837-5437.  Other ways you can help the BBBS succeed is to get involved with their fundraisers such as Bowl for Kids Sake, the Plant Sale, and the one coming up the soonest, Trivia Night on March 4th.

Do something BIG, support mentoring!

Beau Ingledue