An appeal to BlackBoston.com readers, by the publisher.
Did you know Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts (BBBESM) has a growing list of children, particularly boys, waiting to be matched with caring adult mentors in the agency’s one-to-one youth mentoring programs? Well, a big hole in volunteer sign ups is delaying the process. More than three times as many boys are waiting for mentors as girls. To combat this issue, BBBSEM Community Diversity Engagement and Inclusion Manager, Jazzmyn Rodrigues is calling on men to step up as mentors.
originally posted Feb 22, 2022
to become a volunteer visit: www.emassbigs.org.
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Stephen Lucien, 35, of Stoughton, is one such mentor. The two-time Big Brother was recently matched with his current mentee, a 10th grader in BBBSEM’s Mentor 2.0 Program. In the program, mentors engage weekly with BPS high school students via an online platform and meet in person once a month during the school year (or virtually during the pandemic). Lucien, a financial analyst and accountant for the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, looks forward to helping his mentee celebrate their shared backgrounds, culture and history.
“I believe mentorship is a way of paying forward to the next generation and potentially creating a new group of citizens willing to uplift their community,” says Lucien. “Growing up, I looked up to prominent figures like Malcolm X and James Baldwin, who both fought for change and equality. The power of this type of the mentorship allows a young person to gain another perspective from an adult that may have a whole different set of experiences than the adults they’re around. This in turn makes them more well-rounded.”
Throughout the pandemic, mentors like Lucien are maintaining relationships with their mentees by leveraging the nonprofit’s online resources as social distancing has kept them from consistently meeting in-person. Currently, community-based matches are meeting in-person and socially distant only when the mentor, mentee, and guardian are all comfortable while adhering to CDC guidelines. Since March 2020, nearly 800 new matches have been made virtually. In 2022, the agency aims to pair more than 750 new Mentors and Mentees.
With research and proven outcomes at its core, BBBSEM creates matches based on shared interests, geography and personality and serves as a consistent resource for mentors, mentees, and their families. The organization serves as a bridge between communities and community partners, helping to address larger social issues, such as race and education gaps.
“It’s so important for our mentors to have the opportunity to speak about their experiences around race, equity and inclusion,” says Rodrigues. “As the pandemic continues, families need additional support to ensure their children are getting every opportunity for a champion. Everyday new research is coming out about the long-term negative effects the past two years will have on our youth and mentoring a child is one protective measure that we as a community can take to ensure our youth fulfill their potential.”
Anyone can become a mentor as the agency welcomes youth and adults of all races, ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities. Volunteers must be 18 years old or older and be able to commit a few hours a few times a month for at least a year and have a passion for positively impacting a young person’s life.
In its 70th year, BBBSEM, the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate in New England, has created and served more than 20,000 matches. For more information, to become a volunteer or to register their children, your audience can visit: www.emassbigs.org.
Thank you for reading the appeal.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts
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