Before being matched with her “Big”, Jasmine* was a very quiet teenager and kept everything to herself. She would not look anyone in the eyes and had difficulty speaking with people she did not know. Struggling with some aspects of life, the idea of a mentor was brought up by the school counselor. The thought of having a mentor, especially someone whom she had never met, had certainly not crossed her mind, but Jasmine was open to this idea and ready to explore new possibilities.
Jasmine embarked on this unfamiliar journey and agreed to be matched with a “Big”, a volunteer from Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers. Jasmine and her new mentor had a connection, and in time Jasmine shared her hopes and dreams for her future and opened up about her desire to become a singer. Ever since she was a young girl, all that Jasmine wanted to do was sing and with the help of her mentor, she gained the confidence to be able to do just that.
With the encouragement from her “Big”, Jasmine has begun to uncover all the potential that was there all along. “She has one of the most amazing voices you will ever hear” shared Kaitlyn Hoeflein, Executive Director of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers.
A complete 360.
Jasmine has changed into an entirely different person and now has the most vibrant, bright, and shiny personality. She shares her gift with the world and now sings in front of large audiences and is continuing to chase her dreams as an aspiring singer.
This is just one of the countless success stories that result from United Way of Broome County Funded Community Partner: Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers. They truly work to improve the lives of children and adolescents in our community.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers is a youth mentoring organization that matches adults 18 or older with at-risk youth. The goal of this organization is to provide kids with a positive role model that will encourage and support them in order to ultimately increase the vision for the potential in their lives.
Here’s how it works:
As a completely voluntary organization, youth have to be either referred by a school, outside counselor, or their parents; a court cannot mandate the child to be involved in the mentorship program. Youth and their parent/guardian complete an agency intake and then wait for a mentor match that is perfect for them.
A volunteer mentor goes through a thorough interview process in order to make sure that they are fit to be a mentor. With various sit-down interviews, a background check, reference checks, and home visits, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers know that this work is vital, to ensure the mentees are able to live an enhanced life and live up to their full potential with the best possible mentor. Once the match is complete, both the mentor and mentee are free to learn about one another and grow their relationship, many creating lifelong bonds.
From going to the movies together to playing basketball, cooking a meal, or going to the trampoline park, as well as homework or school project help, these activities are what helps create this inseparable bond between matches. A mentor can be a lifelong friend and are a great influence on the child’s life, in hopes that they will be able to propel them and prepare them for the future.
Group outings are also very popular with the mentors and mentees, allowing everyone to get together and interact with other kids that may be going through similar things. “For the youth to know that they are not the only ones in this world going through difficult times, all while building comradery, is something we truly value at Big Brothers, Big Sisters”, shares Hoeflein. The other great thing about these group outings is that Big Brothers, Big Sisters picks up the tab. Due to limited funding, one-on-one activities are individually paid for.
United Way of Broome County is a proud Community Partner of Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Twin Tiers. As a first time funded partner, United Way of Broome County has witnessed many success stories and breakthroughs between mentors and mentees.
There is truly no other organization like this out in the community that provides the level of success and resilience that Big Brothers, Big Sisters does. The national organization has been around for 100 years with comprehensive data that supports their success. Many of the children didn’t have positive role models in their lives, so this is an amazing way to help guide them in the right direction in order to project a successful future.
“This is one of the most significant ways to impact the community today and also impact the future of the community forever. When you invest in a young individual it’s not just making a difference in 2019 but making a difference for the next 60 years.” Hoeflein mentions.
There are over 70 children waiting for a mentor in our area. If you are interested in becoming a mentor, visit http://www.bbbstwintiers.org/ or call at (570) 265-3009.
You won’t regret it!
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.