America’s largest volunteer supported mentoring program is experiencing a dangerous phenomenon; too many young boys are in the program with not enough male mentors to go around.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to mentorship for at-risk youth. Children in this program usually live in single-parent or low-income homes. Often times they have a parent who is incarcerated or serving in the military.
They have been operating for 114 years, have a total of 340 agencies around the country, and are in all 50 states and 12 different countries. The program services approximately 630,000 people.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters helps children realize their potential and build their futures. We nurture children and strengthen communities,” is posted on their official website (bbbs.org) under the “About Us” section.
Tallahassee’s local BBBS services the entire “Big Bend” area and currently has over 400 children on a waiting list to be matched with a mentor. Unfortunately, 68 percent of these children are male.
“A lot of them come from single mother households so they need some more positive male role models in their lives,” said Big Bend BBBS Program Manager Kara Yancey.
According to Yancey, BBBS branches nationwide have much more boys in their program than are male volunteers to mentor them.
“For every 100 women that sign up, we get one man.”
Yancey feels that men aren’t signing up because they either don’t know about the program or don’t have the time to mentor. She hopes that more males will join the organization and encourage other males to join as well.
FAMU student Moses Lordeus volunteers as a mentor to young male students on FAMU’s campus and at R. Frank Nims Middle School with his brothers of the Beta Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
“People need to treat mentoring with more of a sense of urgency, we need to put more time into our youth. Young males need someone they can relate to,” said Lordeus.
Although the fraternity brothers don’t volunteer through BBBS, it is clear that the work they do mentor young boys has made a difference.
Lordeus also emphasized the importance of mentoring and the impact it has on the lives of the young males.
“The kids really appreciate the work we do, there aren’t enough men willing to step up and go out of their way to assist the youth in their communities. Women play a great role in bettering men, they have done so for generations, but that’s no comparison to boys having men in their lives that they can look up to and model themselves after.”
To become a mentor with BBBS, you can visit BigBrothersBigSisters.org or bbbs.org.