Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts & Metrowest pairs youth with adults in the community to create meaningful relationships that foster the youth’s potential. Big Y supported this nonprofit organization through its Community Bag Program.
Tell us about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts & Metrowest.
Our mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. We believe every child should be celebrated.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national organization. In 1963, we became the third chapter founded in Massachusetts. We have a massive coverage area, which includes 87 communities.
What services do you provide to the community?
The service we supply is our mission of mentoring youth. It’s what we do and what we’ve been doing since 1963. We create and support the match between a caring adult and underserved youth in our community. Since it has been so successful, this has been the model of Big Brothers Big Sisters nationally since their inception over 100 years ago.
What sets Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts & Metrowest apart from other nonprofits in your community?
What sets us apart is that we meet our Littles out in the community instead of a clubhouse or other form of community center. We meet them where they are, out in the community. Additionally, we continuously support that match by monitoring the youth’s relationship with the Big monthly. This focus on the one-to-one match is unique and not offered elsewhere in the community.
Please tell us a story that illustrates the good work of your organization.
We always need Bigs, or mentors, and constantly find that we need more men than women. So, this year, to celebrate our 60th anniversary, we had a drive to solicit and recruit Bigs through a program called 60 Men to Mentors. Out of 100 matches, we’ll need 60 men to the 40 women to satisfy our matches. Being our 60th anniversary, the number fit, so we ran with the program. Through this initiative, we matched a Little, whose interests were rap and poetry, to a Big who had similar interests.
We wait until we find someone who will be a great fit because we want it to last. We take our time, and that’s where the magic happens.
For this Little, we found someone who was in the record business. Within months, these two were in a studio together recording. It was a great success!
This story encapsulates what we do best: finding something unique in the matching process. We don’t just pair the first available Little with the next incoming Big. We wait until we find someone who will be a great fit because we want it to last. We take our time, and that’s where the magic happens.
What is your most outstanding achievement or contribution to the community?
We’re most proud of the fact that we’ve been successful for 60 years now. We’ve been in the Worcester community, the largest area we serve, for 60 years, and we’re going strong.
On a side note, we’re quite proud that we made it through the pandemic. We had 800 matches before the pandemic, which went down to almost 200. To survive that was quite an achievement. Now we are back up towards 600, and we’re growing again. So, we are proud of that.
What do you want people to know about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts & Metrowest?
I want the community to know that we always need Bigs. We have over 100 kids waiting to be paired at any given time, which is tough. The Littles come to us from a number of sources, but mainly from a guardian who hears about our program from school or another community service organization. The Little comes on board and gets excited, but then they need to wait.
All it requires is a couple of hours twice a month. The difference that you could make in a child’s life is remarkable.
Right now, we have a national campaign called It Takes Little to Be Big. I want the community to know that the commitment is much less than expected. All it requires is a couple of hours twice a month. The difference that you could make in a child’s life is remarkable. These relationships typically last 24 months, but they can last a lifetime. For example, I’m going on year six with my Little. If someone is interested in becoming a mentor, we are always happy to take the time to explain how easy it is to be a Big.
To be an excellent Big, you only need to be caring and willing to help. Most Bigs will tell you they feel they get more out of it than the Little. Becoming a Big was the best thing I’ve done in decades.
How will you use the funds you’ve received from the Big Y Community Bag Program?
Our focus right now is to increase our outreach. We have earmarked these funds for outreach to the community about our services and Big recruitment.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
We have matches from ages 8 up to 25. Our biggest program matches Bigs with Littles in middle school. From there, we also have programs in high school and college.
You’ll be the person in this Little’s life that has never existed. You are an adult that is just for them.
Yet, whether it’s an adult from the community or a college student, it’s always a one-to-one mentor relationship. Again, we supervise the whole process to ensure the child feels safe and supported and ensure the Big feels successful. What we’re doing is making sure everybody is moving towards a goal. We’re successful as long as we reach the goals set by the Little and the Big.
Lastly, it’s powerful. You’ll be the person in this Little’s life that has never existed. You are an adult that is just for them. These kids come to us because they are missing something. When it connects for the Little that this person is just for them and entirely supports their dreams, progress, and mental health, it sets the youth on the right path.
Rich Terrio is Corporate Relations Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Massachusetts & Metrowest.
Published January 2, 2024.