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Big Brothers/Big Sister Essay

Running Head: BB/BS Open Arms and Open Hearts: Big Brothers/Big Sisters Pamela Naughton Rucker Mrs. McKibbin EH 322-04 March 19, 2001 OUTLINE Thesis Statement: The Big Brother/Big Sisters program was designed to help children from single parent homes. The program matches children with positive adult role models.

I. Beginning a. History-BB/BS began as early at the 1900’s.

b. Facts and statistics-Children in the program excel in various areas such as school and relationships with others.

II. Role of a Big Brother or Big Sister a. Purpose-Our mentoring helps children from single parent homes.

b. Experiences-Examples of a big’s experiences with his or her little.

III. Little Brother’s and Little Sister’s Part Purpose a. What they gain-Being in the programs can change their life forever.

b. What we do-We do a lot of fun stuff together IV. Conclusion a. It’s easy to become a volunteer.

INTRODUCTION The Big Brothers/Big Sisters program was designed for children from single parent homes. The program matches little brothers and little sisters “little’s”, with adult role models, also called “big’s”. The mission statement of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northeast Alabama is “to create, organize, promote, and encourage the welfare of children generally by providing a one-to-one friendship for children of single parent homes with adult volunteers. The corporation shall affirmatively attempt to represent and assist boys and girls of all ethnic, racial, national, cultural, and religious groups in the Northeast Alabama service area. In fulfilling this purpose, it shall be the policy of the corporation to seek and accept only those volunteers possessing the highest personal level of stability, honesty, integrity, ethics and unassailable morality” (BB/BS, personal communication, September 1, 2000).

RESEARCH METHODS I became a volunteer in the program in September 2000. I choose to become a volunteer to help a child in need. I also knew it would be a learning experience for me as well as my little. I heard about the program through my job at Wakefield’s/Martin’s department store. Two of my co-workers are volunteers. I called the outreach coordinator for Calhoun County, Sue Gajda, and she mailed me the packet of information. The biggest part of my research is from personal experience. I found a book and a Website on Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. The Annsiton Star did an article on Big Brothers/Big Sister of Calhoun County. I was interviewed for this article as well as other volunteers.

REPORT Big Brothers/Big Sisters dates back as early as the 1900’s. “Big Sisters activity occurred as early as 1902, when a group of women in New York City, began befriending girls who came before the New York Children’s Court” (Beiswinger, 1985, p.3). Big Brothers was also established during this time. Various cities and states began their own branches of Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BB/BS).

During the early 1900’s BB/BS was not a national federation. The program was strictly handled on a local level. “Big Brothers of America, BBA, was incorporated on December 24,1946” (Beiswinger, 1985, p. 113). It was not until August 3, 1970 that Big Sister was incorporated, and was called Big Sisters International (BSI). “Big Sister of America was not used because the initials BSA might be confused with Boy Scouts of America” (Beiswinger, 1985, p. 147). In 1976 the two groups merged to form Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America (BB/BSA). “BB/BS has 460 affiliated agencies”(Beiseinger, 1985, 205). BB/BS of Calhoun County is funded by the YMCA and the United Way, as are many of the other agencies. BB/BS has salary staff and a board of directors. The bigs and littles also have fundraisers each year to raise money for the organization. Some fundraisers that are done nationwide among all agencies are Bowl For Kids Sake, hole in one golf tournaments and formal dinners. These are all community help projects to raise money for the organization through participation and donations.

In spite of how long BB/BS has been around not many people are aware of what the program does. Many volunteers get involved through other Big Brothers and Big Sisters. The importance of adult role models can be seen in the recent statistics from research funded by UPS. The study showed because these children from single parent homes had an adult role model: “64% of students developed more positive attitudes toward school; 58% achieved higher grades in social studies, language, and math; 60% improved relationships with adults; 56% improved relationships with peers and were better able to express their feelings; 64% developed higher levels of confidence; 62% were more likely to trust their teachers” (BB/BSA, 2001).

These statistics of improvement are attributed to the success of BB/BS.

The role of big’s is very important. When someone makes the decision to be a volunteer he or she is taking on a big responsibility. A volunteer is a role model and friend to a child who is at an impressionable stage in his or her adolescent years. Volunteers must be mature. The age requirement to volunteer is 18 years old. The program also requests that volunteers spend at least two hours a week with their little. When a volunteer enters the program they ask that you commit for at least one year. This program also requires dedication. If you make plans with your little you cannot break them. They look up to you and depend on you to keep your promises. They will learn to trust and depend on you. One important goal of the program is to build a positive and trusting relationship.

There are three stages in the process to become a volunteer. Potential volunteers should contact the United Way in their area or a local YMCA agency for information on how to contact an outreach coordinator. After contacting the outreach coordinator for their area potential volunteers will receive a packet of questions he or she must fill out. The questions range from family life, how discipline was rendered as a child, schooling, relationships with others, religious beliefs, work, and personal questions. After completing the questionnaire a background check and fingerprints are done. Finally, a personal interview and a home visit are conducted.

The personal interview asks questions much like that on the questionnaire. They speak with volunteers at length about family life, childhood, adolescents, and adulthood. Some of the questions are very personal. They ask about abuse, sexual and physical. The questions, however, are important to help determine what the relationship with your little will be like. The home visit is a tour of the volunteer’s house conducted by the outreach coordinator. A lot can be told about a person by where they live.

Upon acceptance into the program, the volunteer is ready to be matched with a little. Females are matched with little sisters and males are matched with little brothers. Volunteers and littles are matched based on similar interested and the needs of the little. If their interests are similar to that of a potential little and the volunteer can meet his or her needs, the big has the choice of whether or not to be matched with that little. The needs of a little are what the little and parent expect to gain from the program. Children with the need to improve social skills would be matched with an outgoing big. If a big accepts the match, the little and his or her parents can accept or deny the match based on information about the big. The outreach coordinator is present during the first meeting with the big and little. The outreach coordinator will do his or her best to match littles and bigs within the same location. There are times when the matches do not work out and new matches are made.

The littles also gain a lot from this program. Children from single parent homes sometimes need, or would like, a companion and friend. Littles from single parent homes often grow up lacking self-esteem and social skills. Bigs are here to help them feel more complete. As the earlier statistics have shown the program is working. Children in the program tend to have an overall more positive attitude towards life. The program serves children from ages 6-15 who come from single parent homes. This is a preventative program; therefore, the children entering the program are generally not delinquent children.

There are so many different activities that can be done between a big and a little. I have taken my little to the mall, to eat, to meet my family, and to the Aquarium in Tennessee. The first two months of the program need to be strictly between the big and the little. It is not a good idea to introduce others on outings until a trusting relationship has formed.


I am including the following poem as the conclusion of this research because it shows just how much children look up to adults: When I got mad and hit my child, “for his own good”, I reconciled; and then, I realized my plight”¦today I taught my child to fight. When interrupted by the phone I said, “tell them I’m not at home”, and then I thought and had to sigh”¦today I taught my child to lie. I told the tax man what I made, “forgetting” cash that I was paid; and then I blushed at this sad feat”¦today I taught my child to cheat. I smuggle coped a cassette to keep me free of one more debt. But now the bells of shame must peal”¦today I taught my child to steal. Today I cursed another race. O God, protect what I debase for now I fear it is too late”¦today I taught my child to hate.

By my example, children learn”¦then I must lead in life’s sojourn, in such a way that they are led by what is done, and what is said. Today I gave my child his due by praise for him instead of rue and now I have begun my guide”¦today I gave my child his pride. I now have reconciled and paid to IRS all I mad. And now I know that this is dear youth today has learned from me, of truth. The alms I give are not for show and yet this child must surely know that charity is worth the price”¦today, he saw my sacrifice. I clasp within a warm embrace my neighbor of another race-the great commandment from above; today I taught my child to love. Someday my child must face alone this world of fearsome undertone, but I have blazed a sure pathway today I taught my child to pray: (H.M. Ward, personal communication, September 1, 2000).

There is always a shortage of volunteers, especially African American males. Volunteering can sometimes be tough to do. I work full time, go to school full time, am a newlywed, and I volunteer as a Big Sister. I enjoy being a volunteer, but it does get tough. Some weeks I am unable to see my little sister, but I always call and let her know if she needs anything to call. There is a man who is a volunteer in Calhoun County who has a wife and five children of his own (2000, McCullars, p.1). If this gentleman can find time to volunteer anyone can.

Volunteering can also be helpful to the volunteer and not just the little. I have learned to enjoy life and when I am with my little sister, I forget how stressful life is. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, you may contact Sue Gajda at the YMCA in Anniston. You too could change a child’s life”¦forever.

Reference List

Beiswinger, G. L. (1985). One To One: The story of the big brothers/big sisters movement in America. Philadelphia: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. (2001, January 1). About BBBSA. Retrieved 1 January 2001 from the World Wide Web: http:// www.bbbsa.org/about/aboutimpact.html McCullars, J. (2000, November 31). Helping one child at a time. Retrieved January 2, 2001 from the World Wide Web: http:// www.annistonstar.com/news/news_ 20001031_4467.html

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