This month as we focus on elementary aged children, we have visited with several organizations about what they offer to children in Juneau. One that stood out to us is Big Brothers Big Sisters. We talked to John Maddox, an Enrollment and Matching Specialist, about what the program entails and how it can have a positive effect on our community, including personal testimony from a local participating couple that mentor an elementary aged child.
"In 1904, Big Brothers was started by a New York law clerk named Ernest Coulter. They later merged with a similar women’s organization named Ladies of Charity. We officially became Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of America in 1977. BBBS of Southeast Alaska began service in 1979, when Juneau citizens, Kevin Richie and Margaret Pugh, saw a need for the program in the area. Since that time, and with this same spirit, the organization has continued to serve residents in Juneau and its surrounding communities. For the full history you can visit our website at: http://www.bbbsak.org
Our mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Our vision is that all children achieve success in life.
All of our programs are completely voluntary and free. We accept all children, ages 6 – 16, as long as they are able to communicate safety concerns and want to be in our programs. Adult mentors, 18 and older, must be able to pass an extensive background check and have the ability to form an appropriate mentoring relationship with a child. We ask for a minimum of a one year commitment from all program participants. Additionally, all participants need to be able to meet 2 -4 times per month to enjoy whatever healthy activities everyone agrees upon. BBBS sponsors, at least, one awesome activity per month.
We have many options, including a couple’s match option. Chris and Colin are matched with Aaron. They say, “We’ve really enjoyed being a part of the BBBS program; it’s been a remarkably impactful experience to get to know our ‘Little’, to see him open up to us and grow, and to spend time together. We go on adventures, try different activities, and just hang out doing simple things like board games or drawing pictures. The thing that was most unexpected for us as Bigs was just how much this program would affect us; we truly care about our Little and value our time with him. The time we get to spend together is not a commitment or an obligation; instead it really feels like a privilege to be around to bolster his confidence, encourage and support him.”"