Communities that Care | Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors children through formative years

September 18, 2013 

Do you recognize the value of a good friend? Do you feel that others have invested their time and energy to encourage you and that you could do the same for a child?

The Centre County Board of Commissioners recently designated September as Big Brothers Big Sisters Month. This is the time to recognize the critical intervention that BBBS provides by promoting a healthy support system for children in our community.

Many adults can serve as positive role models, and many may recall the support of others in their own life — neighbors, family, friends, teachers, coaches or grandparents. Someone who is there to listen and gives their time can help young people discover themselves and face the challenges of life. For many of our youth, the chance to connect with these types of individuals is limited due to family circumstances, lack of a stable home life, a poor neighborhood environment, or few connections through school or extracurricular activities.

In keeping with the objective of making a lasting impact on a child, the BBBS program requires a minimum year-long commitment to facilitate strong relationships. Volunteers are screened and trained prior to being matched with a young person. The model and practices of the local program follow those of the national organization, which traces its history back more than 100 years. A national study found that youth matched with a mentor attended school more, were more likely to get along better with their families and peers, and less likely to have started using drugs or alcohol than youth who were not in the program.

The presence of a caring person who is stable, consistent and ready to listen can give hope, bolster a child’s confidence and give them a more positive outlook on the future. The investment in the child is first, through a relationship built on trust and acceptance.

There are many children in need of a Big Brother or Big Sister. The local program always needs people who are eager to positively impact a child and improve their community at the same time. At BBBS, our volunteers give only a few hours a month to provide a young person with the invaluable gift of friendship.

If you are interested in finding out more about the program and how to get involved, call 237-2224 or email bbbsnews@ccysb.com. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Centre County is one of 14 different services of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau, which has family-based, residential and community-based programs to assist children, youth and families throughout our area. For additional information, please contact the YSB at the number above or visit the web site at www.ccysb.com.

Jodi Morelli is a program coordinator of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Centre County, which is a program of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau. This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities that Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities that Care serving the State College Area School District.

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