From Big Brothers Big Sisters, Buncombe County:
Big Brothers Big Sisters “Bigs in Blue” partnership connects youth with Asheville Police Officers through mentoring
Asheville, NC – February 20, 2017 –Big Brothers Big Sisters of Buncombe County and the Asheville Police Department have launched a brand new partnership that provides local youth with supportive mentors while also enriching community-police relations.
“Bigs in Blue”— a national BBBS program that started late last year—pairs police officers with local youth who need support, and Asheville is one of a growing number of cities around the nation that is participating.
“We are very excited with the response to the Bigs in Blue program” says Robin Myer, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC. In December, Myer met with APD Chief Tammy Hooper in December to discuss a local Bigs in Blue initiative, “Chief Hooper and the Asheville Police Department were on-board as soon as they learned about this nationwide initiative by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and we are looking forward to positively impacting more youth with this special program,” he says.
Locally, Bigs in Blue pairings are being made for BBBS WNC’s after-school and in-school programs and already, seven APD officers have volunteered to mentor. On January 30th the program’s first match was made between APD forensics expert Carissa Herrington and her Little, Lonna, in Vance Elementary’s after-school program.
“I get to spend time with [Lonna] one on one, getting to know what’s going on in her life and also helping her through her personal challenges she is facing and giving her someone to talk to,” says Herrington, adding that the program “[R]eally puts us out into the community…and gives the perspective of how we are helping with their safety and what we can do for them.”
As a Big, officers will spend an hour each week with their little—either assisting with studies and homework in school or connecting afterschool through art, sports games and other activities. Additional locations slated for Bigs in Blue activities include Jones Elementary School, Montford Recreation Center, the YWCA after-school and Stephens Lee Recreation Center.
“The Asheville Police Department is excited for the opportunity to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Buncombe County to reach out to some of the youngest members of our community,” shared Chief Hooper, “One of the best things we can do to improve trust and help the youth in our city is to listen to them, spend time with them and just be there for them.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, holds itself accountable for children in its program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as educational success; avoidance of risky behaviors; and higher aspirations, greater confidence and better relationships. Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children (“Littles”) with screened volunteer mentors (“Bigs”) and monitors and supports these one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. Big Brothers Big Sisters provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. This mission has been the cornerstone of the national organization’s 100-year history. The local BBBS of WNC agency serves ten counties in WNC and served 1,592 youth in the last fiscal year. The agency provided 636 youth with one-on-one mentoring relationships, and Project MARS/ AmeriCorps provided academic and supportive resources to 956 students in fiscal year ’15-’16.