LARGO – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay celebrates National Mentoring Month this January by recognizing the “superstars” of mentoring: volunteers in the program, called “Bigs,” who spend time helping kids, called “Littles.”
Former Little Brother Anwar Richardson said he was tough and rebellious growing up in the area. When he enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters and was first matched with his Big Brother Derrick Jackson, he didn’t listen and resisted his Big Brother’s advice.
But over time, their relationship grew stronger. Now 30 years later, Richardson and Jackson are still in contact. Richardson continues to look up to his Big Brother and even followed in his footsteps. Jackson is a former sports writer and now an award-winning columnist for the Boston Globe. Richardson has become a successful sports writer for Yahoo! NFL.
Richardson’s story is just one example of the thousands of children the program serves every year. Bigs are ordinary people in regular professions who have something in common: a desire to help kids succeed. The organization has learned former Littles that to them, Bigs were “superstars.”
Longstanding independent research and Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcomes Survey data find children enrolled in the program improve academically and socially. According to the latest data, 94 percent of Littles in the program maintained or improved in their attitudes toward risky behaviors; 88 percent maintained or improved in parental trust and 83 percent maintained or improved in scholastic competence.
However, the reality is more than 800 children in the community are on waiting lists for a Big. Part of the challenge is money: each of the Big/Little matches is professionally supported and costs the program more than $1,000 a year. Yet the results are truly priceless: happy, healthy, confident and successful children who had previously been at risk for failure.
National Mentoring Month is a great time to join the ranks of superstars, by volunteering or donating today at www.bbbs.org.