Changing Childrens’ Lives — A Little At A Time

A Mentor Mission Moment from CHD’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County

When you were a kid, was there an adult in your life—someone besides your mom or dad—who was your mentor? Perhaps it was a teacher, coach, librarian or scout leader, or someone who shared your passion for piano or model airplanes. If you were lucky to have an adult mentor, you probably had lots of fun and learned useful life lessons in the process.

There are still great opportunities today for adults to mentor kids, and no other organization puts so much effort and expertise into making it happen as Big Brother Big Sisters. All across the nation, Big Brothers Big Sisters chapters match adult volunteers with kids who need a responsible adult in their life, someone they can rely on to be there for them every week, someone who is simply their friend.

CHD provides support for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, which has been at work since 1975 connecting “Bigs” and “Littles” in our area. Let me tell you about some matches we’ve made.

Jeremy and Otis were matched last March. This “dream team” has been going out for pizza, people watching in Amherst and playing basketball. Jeremy has even coached Otis’s soccer team. Jeremy says he’s from New York and doesn’t often see his immediate family while he’s in Amherst going to college, so he likes having a Little Brother in town. It’s interesting that the BIG Brother points out how much the relationship means to him. No doubt, these relationships are reciprocal.

Michelle and Morry were matched in 2012. Since then they have enjoyed facing challenges and adventures together, whether that’s meant pumpkin carving, navigating an outdoor maze or making dinner. Michelle loves how spending time with Morry lets her step away from her daily routine and enjoy things she enjoyed as a kid, such as playing imaginary school.

Chris and Kyle were matched in 2012. Chris says he became a Big because he values community engagement, and what better way to get involved than one-on-one with a kid who needs a friend. Chris and Kyle love playing the board game “Stratego,” and Chris admits he cannot seem to beat Kyle – he’s a mastermind! Chris’ favorite memory with Kyle was when they decided to pretend that their favorite video game was a reality. Chris tells the story:

“We were secret spies being followed by enemies. I insisted that the only safe place was a secret room within the Octagon at Amherst College. Kyle completely bought into the entire experience, narrating the battle, assuming the role of a general, and most importantly, using his imagination.”

You can imagine the fun these Bigs and Littles have as friends. And that friendship is what really matters. As a Big, you’re not a tutor or parent or a wealthy relative, you’re simply someone who is there to develop a friendship with a kid. Littles have had too many disappointments during their short time on the planet, so Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County does everything possible to ensure the success of each match and works to nurture the relationship. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A Big just needs to make their Little part of what they do anyway.

Not surprisingly, there are many more Littles than Bigs. In Hampshire County alone, 180 kids are on the waiting list. About two-thirds are boys. We really need new Bigs to step up and be matches for kids. There are no special qualifications or age restrictions. Some Bigs have careers, others are retired. In greater Amherst, many Bigs are college students.

What about you? Make a New Year’s resolution that matters. Be a mentor to a kid.

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