Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast
In A Nutshell:
They provide one-to-one mentoring to children annually for ages 6 to 18 throughout six counties in Florida: Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Highlands, Hardee and parts of West Charlotte Counties. Mentoring has been proven to have a powerful impact on academic performance, self-confidence, attitude, and relationships.
Why They Rock:
- Cornerstone Model: Targets ninth graders at risk of dropping out due to performance/attendance in middle school.
- Decisions to Win: Targets high school at-risk youth. Workbooks address self- awareness and decision-making.
- Mentoring Children of Promise: Community or Site-Based mentoring focusing on children with at least one incarcerated parent.
- Reading Bigs: Site or Community-Based programs focused on literacy and reading skills that targets children who are reading below grade level.
- Sports Buddies: Sports Buddies provide opportunities for children to experience sporting and recreational events.
A six-year-old boy is picked up by his Big Brother (mentor) for a car ride, and a few miles into the drive, the kid states he has never been this far from his house in all his life. They arrive at Home Depot and the kid slowly exits the car and it’s like he’s about to enter Disney World for the first time: huge wide eyes, running in place, and he can hardly speak – almost hyperventilating while repeating, “are we going in there?” The story speaks for itself…and if you need facts, then check out the BBBS national study after 18 months with kids matched (have a BBBS) opposed to those unmatched on a waiting list:
- 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
- 27% less likely to begin using alcohol
- 52% less likely to skip school
- 37% less likely to skip a class
- 33% less likely to hit someone
My contact Doris got me set-up early in the morning to help with promoting their annual fundraiser – Déjà Vu Big American Bandstand which includes the following:
- Silent/Live Auction & Raffle
- Dance & Costume Contest
- Food & Open Bar
- Dick Clark Impersonator
- Music! 50s, 60s, 70s, & 80s
I was in charge of sending thank you packets and invitations for the event…I was very happy they didn’t see my handwriting marks from 3rd grade. If you are in Florida, then definitely come boogie (bringing that word back) at Déjà Vu for a great cause. After completing my best chicken scratch, Doris treated me to a huge lunch and then I came back for packet domination with Shelley.
I become one with the photo copier and whole puncher, it was like meditation with awesome positive dittos (dittos – bringing that word back too). I had the pleasure of putting together Student Manuals used for teaching positive reinforcement…I LOVED how they have a section on positive affirmations and quotes (felt like the boy outside Home Depot). The day ended at the Hyatt where I met the whole Déjà Vu Committee, a dynamic giving bunch dedicated to throwing a great benefit.
My Florida stay with Bob and his wife Anne (both Déjà Vu Committee members) was amazing…after 12 hours in a car I was able to chill at their fire pit, and finally crashed in a comfy bed big enough to hold 32 alligators (large ones). I also was lucky to have dinner with Henry and Maria (parents of my college buddy Sterbo), and they fed me tasty chicken parm to last 17 days in one hour…gotta love Long Island hospitality!
BBBS empowers kids to respect themselves with REAL living positive role models (not via TV, the Internet, or Video Games) with their TIME! I am going to re-dedicate my remaining days on the 50Give tour with the ‘stoked’ feeling that young boy experienced outside Home Depot…I AM the Positive Present.
The journal entry is dedicated for the daughter of Bob and Anne.
“Be yourself, everybody else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde