Fort Wayne, IN (21Alive) -- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana and Southcentral Michigan celebrated January as National Mentoring Month by hosting a Big Appreciation Event on Thursday, January 30, 2014.
The celebration included Mayor Tom Henry addressing the group of local Big Brothers and Big Sisters and proclaiming January as National Mentoring Month for the City of Fort Wayne. It also included a complimentary breakfast, a talk by Big Brother Adam Blakey and other speakers that expressed their gratitude to the ‘Bigs’ in attendance that spend a couple of hours each month mentoring in Big Brothers Big Sisters’ programs. The goal was to recognize and thank these mentors as the celebrities they are in the eyes of their ‘Littles’.
“Many of our Bigs spend a couple of hours a month with their Littles doing things they already like to do, just hanging out and having a good time,” said Eric Pulley, Director of Marketing & Recruitment for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “This is a proven method that changes behaviors positively, but sometimes the change can be slow or temporarily hidden. This is misleading for our Bigs trying to measure their impact on the child. In fact, our Bigs are rock stars in the eyes of their Littles and change is happening, so this celebration was just one way that we can reinforce with our Bigs the reality that they are making a big difference!”
In 2013, more than 1,200 volunteers in Allen County were matched and mentored a child. Mentoring is nationally recognized as a powerful youth development strategy; offering guidance, support, and encouragement to help a young person become a responsible, productive adult and to reach their full potential. Mentors open doors of opportunity, convey values, and help provide the stability and encouragement that young people need to succeed. Through one-to-one relationships, a mentor can profoundly affect a young person’s life.
“Many of the kids struggling in our community today come from single-parent homes and are high school drop outs, and unemployed with low self esteem,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “These kids are the victims of their situations and are put in these positions through no fault of their own. They have nothing to do, so they walk the streets looking for someone just like them to identify themselves with. And this is how crime starts. We need to reach out and help. Be a Big and get someone else to be a Big. This program can give the kids a glimpse of what can be because mentors open doors to opportunities.”
The celebration was well received by the Big Brothers, Big Sisters and mentors in attendance, proving helpful in letting them know the difference that they are making. One of the more inspirational talks was by Big Brother Adam Blakey who spoke about his personal experience in the program and with his Little Brother Jaylin. Hearing from one of their mentoring peers often helps current mentors better evaluate their opportunities.
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