My Turn: Youth-adult mentoring programs strengthen our community

ericka my turn

Sunday, July 16, 2017, The Greenfield Recorder

“Without you there is no us.” No statement rings truer for us at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County. The important work we do, of helping children reach their highest potential, comes with fiscal responsibility.

Recent data has shown that empowering youth-adult mentoring relationships created and supported by programs like those of Big Brothers Big Sisters, strengthen our community. For every dollar invested in effective mentoring there is a return of $2.72, which includes dollars saved through reduced juvenile delinquency and crime, improved school attendance, higher high school graduation rates and lowered risk of youth being involved in risky behavior, ie: drugs, alcohol and tobacco use.

Data is very powerful, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the outcomes our agency sees every year. We see children who have faced adversity — some of which you and I can only imagine — who now feel safe and supported by their adult mentor. We see children who have greater self-confidence knowing that they have a caring relationship with an adult who can help them navigate life’s challenges. We see smiles where there have been tears. These children are the foundation of our community. They are our future voters, employees, neighbors and caregivers. They are future mentors.

In order to make the highest-quality mentoring matches, we employ trained professional staff, who are able to work closely in supporting the families and volunteers we work with. Nearly all of our budget is funneled directly back into our programming through staff education. Our staff is responsible for maintaining the highest level of safety for the children in our programs, this is done through volunteer interviews, background checks and consistent monitoring of the match. The importance of preparation and knowledge in making, maintaining and supporting mentoring relationships is the key to our success.

We feel your love, Franklin County. Through your generosity we’ve been changing children’s lives for the better, often forever — for 50 years. That is 50 years of being a 100 percent donor-supported nonprofit mentoring agency. That’s 50 years of you believing in our mission. Thank you!

Cheers to our partnership, and the next 50 years of making futures brighter.

Ericka Almeida is the marketing and development coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County.

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