By Keith Williams, Esq. Board Member, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County
This Black History Month, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward celebrates the impact our mentoring relationships have created for thousands of Black children in our community since opening our doors in 1972.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a unique asset to our community. Because of the one-to-one mentoring relationships we provide, all the Little Brothers and Sisters in our program have higher aspirations, achieve greater confidence, create better relationships, demonstrate improved educational success and, as a result, become much less likely to engage in risky behaviors. The lasting relationships we create often change the trajectory of our children’s lives from downward to upward, and that empowers our children to achieve their full potential and ultimately shape their future and community more positively.
Today at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward, 55 percent of the Little Brothers and Sisters we serve identify themselves as Black or Biracial. Little Brothers make up 47 percent of this number. By comparison, only 27 percent of our volunteer mentors, men or women, identify as Black or Biracial. The data collected over Big Brother Big Sisters of America’s 110+ year history of serving the community as mentors shows that parents and guardians typically prefer mentors who share the same background and are the same gender as their children. Because of this, our Black Little Brothers often have to wait longer for a mentor. Currently, there are 258 Black boys on our waitlist who need a mentor.
It’s time to solve this problem. We are inviting all the Black men in our community to step up and meet this increased need for our kids by becoming Big Brothers. We need you. Our Little Brothers need you.
Contrary to what you might have heard, the commitment to be a Big Brother is less than people think – it only takes a few hours each month. The TIME you spend with your Little Brother is the impact that changes their life—this time can range from playing sports to helping with homework to simply talking about life. Our professional staff ensures that Bigs and Littles are carefully matched with a focus on having common interests and a shared connection. As a result, Big Brother or Big Sister matches often result in positive relationships that last for a lifetime.
The payoff for your small investment of time is gigantic. The social return on your time investment in our community is $18-to-$1 through improved economic, health, and social outcomes for boys and girls with mentors. And, as our mentored children grow up, they are in a better position to participate in shaping our community’s social and economic future.
Our goal for this year is to recruit volunteers to match every young person on our waitlist, as part of our Broward Bigger Better Stronger (BBBS) initiative. We especially need more Black men to mentor our Black Little Brothers. So come on, Big Brother – Will you step up to mentor our youth today, so they can stand alongside us as leaders tomorrow?
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