January marks the 19th annual National Mentoring Month, a campaign aimed at expanding quality mentoring opportunities to connect more of our community’s young people with caring adults.
United Way of Northwest Georgia’s Young Leaders Society has established a mentoring partnership with United Way community partner Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Georgia Mountains called Mentors United.
The Young Leaders Society members have volunteered their time as part of the Buddy Program, the school-based mentorship arm of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Georgia Mountains.
Eleven Young Leaders Society members have made the commitment to dedicate spending time with Valley Point Middle School sixth-grade students.
The mentors (Big Buddies) meet with their Little Buddies monthly through this school year with the goal of following them throughout their middle school years and beyond.
Mr. Kidd, Valley Point Middle School counselor, works with the teachers to identify children that they feel would benefit from extra attention.
The Young Leaders Society Members completed the enrollment and orientation process with Big Brothers Big Sisters that includes interest questions that help with the enrollment and match specialist pair the Little and Big together.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides ongoing support for both the Big and Little Buddy with monthly contacts made by its professionally trained staff.
There has been a Kickoff Party and a Christmas Party for the mentors and their Littles, and a Valentine’s Day Party coming up along with an end of the school year celebration.
The visits from the mentors are the highlight of the month for many of the Little Buddies. But it is not just the Little Buddies that enjoy the visits. The mentors are also getting so much out of this program.
“After some United Way impact tours, I realized how important and easy it could be to become someone’s cheerleader in their lives,” said Yesenia Barragan, a mentor and human resources manager at Engineered Floors
The mentors give the Little Buddies someone to confide in and to look up to. Overall, the Little Buddies do better in school and at home because of their relationship with their Big Buddies.
“When I was young, I was very impressionable I had many people along the way to help guide and mold me into what I am today,” said Jammie Green, a mentor and director of health and welfare at Engineered Floors.
“So, that distinctly made me very self-aware to want to pay it forward, if given the opportunity.”
The mentorship program doesn’t just affect the Little Buddies, it affects the Big Buddies as well.
When asked if Barragan or Green would participate in this mentorship program again they both answered with a resounding yes.
“Absolutely!” Green said.
“Knowing I have made a connection with my Little Buddy and seeing the positivity surrounding around them when we talk about their future ideas and plans and supporting them
in a way that makes them feel they can do and become anything is not only self-fulfilling for myself, but gives me hope that they too one day will pay it forward.”
Here are some statistics that show the impact of the Big Buddy Little Buddy mentorship program on a national level includes:
• 46% of Littles are less likely to begin using illegal drugs
• 27% of Littles are less likely to begin using alcohol
• 52% of Littles are less likely to skip school
• 33% of Littles are less likely to hit someone
This article appeared in Daily Citizen News on January 30, 2020.