Editor’s note: The following Q&A is part of Xpress‘ annual Kids Issues.
Paul Clark, communications coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC, speaks to the importance of mentorships and the positive impact such relationships have on area youths.
What are your organization’s goals for 2023?
With more than 300 kids on our waiting list, we’re doubling down on recruiting more mentors — especially men and people of color — who will commit to showing up in a Little’s life regularly for even short amounts of time (a little commitment goes a long way in a young person’s life). This year, BBBSWNC is strengthening and broadening its relationships with local businesses and churches to enlist more allies in our work.
What are some of the challenges you face in meeting these goals?
Locally and nationally, far more women than men explore becoming a Big, presenting a challenge in matching the many boys we have waiting who hope male mentors will step up for them. People typically assume it takes more time and commitment to be a Big than it does. We ask only that Bigs visit their Little several hours a month, and that they remain a Big for at least a year.
What do you consider your organization’s greatest impact on our area’s youths?
Our own youth outcome surveys indicate that the stability that comes from having a Big improves Littles’ confidence, problem-solving, motivation to learn, school performance and classroom attendance. Having a stable role model who offers friendship and trust jump-starts the development of a Little’s aspirations and life skills, research on our program indicates.
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