Among other words of wisdom you may have received from your parents as you were growing up, was: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. That’s the basic idea behind the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor program.
Michael Sanzi, the president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Capital Area, says, The program creates structure and a foundation that kids can grow from, sometimes not provided at home. With the program, these kids now have a big brother or sister that has their back and provides someone they can count on.
Sandra Redding is raising 4 young men in South East DC. She saw that her boys needed a bit more guidance than she had time to give, so she contacted the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area. Her oldest, Rodney, wasn’t on board at first.
Rodney didn’t think he needed a big brother at first. At the same time, he admits that he needed someone to talk to from time to time. His Big Brother, Joel, was that someone who was willing to listen and help.
On the outside, Rodney said he wasn’t interested, but on the inside, something needed to change. He was angry and couldn’t verbalize that anger. After meeting Joel and talking to him for a while, Rodney soon decided that, “not everybody is bad”.
Alahandra was a teen who was in line for a big sister. Her troubles weren’t anger or emotional but logical. She needed help in Algebra and sought help from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. That’s how she met Bianca. When they met, the expectations were simple. Alahandra would hopefully get better in math. What happened was far more than that. The foundation of a friendship started.
The beauty of Big Brothers Big Sisters is building a relationship between the Bigs and Littles. And usually that entails going out and having fun.
These Littles have gone fishing, seen ballets, taken in football games and gone bowling. On the surface, these activities seem like a good way to pass time. In reality, they serve as a great environment to build a bond and grow friendships.
The Bigs listen to the Littles to see what their interests are. The Littles listen to the Bigs to gain some guidance. That’s a pretty good trade off that seems to help both sides accomplish what the program sets out to do.
When asked what one needs to be a mentor, or Big, Michael said simply, “You need a heart, it’s that simple”.