Mentoring a Child Can Spark a Career
Potential. How do we help children in our community – especially children experiencing challenges at home or school – reach their potential? One proven strategy is through the one-to-one mentoring relationships offered through Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Johns County (BBBS). BBBS offers both site and community-based mentoring which match children ages 6-12 with a caring adult mentor. The mentoring relationship supports the critical social and emotional development needed to build resilience, promote positive mental health and well-being, and ignites and defends the potential of the children served.
Additionally, volunteers (“Bigs”) often help support the children in the program (“Littles”) by exploring interests that could spark possible future careers. One Big, Ned, discovered that his Little, Rylan, had thoughts of going into the military. Ned has taken Rylan on tours of Navy ships and the local National Guard Armory as well as introduced him to his own acquaintances with military experience to share information with Rylan. The current Big of the Year, Delroy, told BBBS his Little wasn’t really thinking about the future. Now, because Delroy has taught him never to give up on his goals and dreams, the Little is more excited about career possibilities. Other Bigs explore possible career paths with their Littles by cooking with them, going on visits to veterinary clinics and animal shelters, and teaching them how to refurbish old furniture.
Bigs go through an extensive screening and enrollment process which includes child development training. “We have to ensure that a person is volunteering for all the right reasons and that this is a good time in their life to be able to meet consistently with their Little says Melissa Ryan, BBBS of SJC Program Director. She notes that often people are nervous about being a mentor, so we ask possible Bigs if they can be consistent, on-time, and available to actively listen to their Littles. If the answer is “yes,” then that person has the necessary qualities to be a Big Brother or Big Sister.
The children in the BBBS program often need an added layer of support to reach their potential. For a volunteer Big to spend time with a Little, while listening and facilitating opportunities to explore interests – all make a huge impact on that child. Many volunteers say that they get more out of it than the kids. Currently, the BBBS program has 30 children on the waiting list and is seeking volunteers. For as little as one hour a week, a caring adult can make a difference in the life of a child. For more information, visit www.bbbsstjohns.org or call (904) 829-9986.