By Karen Schloss
Match Support Coordinator
Jewish Community Services
What if someone gave you the opportunity to change a life? And what if you were told that you must have fun while doing it? That’s the essence of the Jewish Big Brother, Big Sister Program at Jewish Community Services. If you’re like most volunteers who sign up to be a ‘Big,’ what you give won’t even come close to what you get in return.
Here’s some information to consider: Studies show that children who have mentors do better in school, have improved self-esteem and social skills and are less likely to engage in substance use and abuse.
In the words of one mother of teenage sons, is an appreciation of what a mentor has done for her family.
“I am a single, widowed, full time working Mom of two sons, whose Dad passed away a few years ago. I learned about the Jewish Big Brother program from a friend.
Approximately six months after the death, I decided to inquire about the program because I wanted my sons to have a male role model in their life. I know that the person would never replace their Dad, but just to have another male person in their life was important to me. Someone that would just hang out with them, have similar interests and just ‘have fun.’
I believe that having Big Brothers for my kids has impacted their lives in so many ways. They have special foods that they eat together, go to movies, a Ravens game, or text when they want to catch up. It gives me comfort to know that my sons can always call their ‘Bigs’ or text them when they just want to either hang out or chat.
There are many qualities that I admire in both of these Big Brothers. They are compassionate, responsible, fun and just good guys. In fact, when my Dad passed away last year, both Big Brothers attended the funeral. I was really touched.
I would encourage other families to participate in the Jewish Big Brother matching program because it allows the ‘Littles’ to create new friendships and long lasting relationships with male role models. It is another social outlet that allows the ‘Littles’ to bond and create new memories. I am so thankful for the Big Brothers in my sons’ lives.”
For some “Littles” their relationship with their Big Brother or Big Sister is so powerful that when they grow up, they want to give to a child what they received. What better gift to be able to give than to pay it forward.
If you want to make a difference in the life of a child, please consider becoming a “Big.” A few hours a month is all it takes, and JCS provides training and support. For more information on becoming a “Big” call Katie Cohen at 410-843-7462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.