LARGO – To increase the number of mentors for young boys in Pinellas County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas launched The Next BIG Thing on Oct. 1 – the very first Big Couples campaign in its history.
Statistically, one in five African-American boys in the county will graduate from high school this year. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pinellas will run a 50-day campaign with the goal of recruiting 50 new Big Couples to remove 50 boys from the agency’s waiting list. There currently are more than 200 children ready to be matched.
As a Big Couple, you and your long-term significant other become adult mentors – otherwise known as “Bigs” – to a young boy waiting for someone to guide him down the path to success.
The three of you can do things together or spend time with your “Little” individually, from simple activities like playing catch in the park to eating a hot dog at a Tampa Bay Rays game. Your presence has the power to enrich a child’s life by exposing him to things he would otherwise never get to experience.
There are 744 hours in the average month; it only takes four to eight hours to be a Big Couple.
To get started, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters by calling 518-8860 or visiting www.bbbspc.org. Volunteers then must pick one of three programs:
• Community-based: meeting with the child for four hours each month to spend quality time together in the community.
• Sports Buddies: an extension of Community Based, this program stems from building an instant friendship from the common interest of sports.
• School-based: meeting with the child on school grounds for one hour per week; your visit will typically range from playing on the playground to helping with academic work or simply talking about your day. You are not responsible for seeing the child when school is not in session.
Volunteers then would meet with a degreed Match Manager for an interview and training session before meeting a new Little Brother.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides a system of ongoing evaluation and support, which is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that “Littles” will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others. The organization has been in existence for more than 100 years at a national level, and more than 45 years locally.