Big Brothers Big Sisters Making a Big Impact with Mentors
President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, Carlos Lejnieks, explains how this dynamic organization helps children reach their potential by providing a supportive adult as a mentor. Mentors volunteer one hour a week and make a huge impact on their young mentees.
"Welcome to Life and Living. I'm Joanna Gagis. For kids growing up in unstable homes, the impact of mentorship makes all the difference. Big Brothers Big Sisters is proving that with 95% of their kids going on to graduate from high school. I'm joined right now with Carlos Lejnieks, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties right here in New Jersey. Welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. What does the impact of mentorship do to a child. How does mentorship impact a child? Sure. It's a simple thing that adds up over time. It's transformative. We see the ripple effects not only in that child’s life, but also in the community in which they live and also the schools in which they attend and also it's deeply impactful for the adult mentor as well. Big Brothers Big Sisters has been around for over a century. It's one of the best practices evidence based organizations that sources positive adult volunteer mentors and through a thoughtful process pairs them up with at risk children that come to us through a variety of ways. So how do you pair them? Explain how that works. We essentially get to know each participant. Obviously, numbers are great and we want to scale and get as many people as possible. Last year we had over 1,100 children with one to one mentors over time. One on One? Each one is one on one? That's exactly right. All volunteer based mentors? Exactly right. So the positive is that Thank you for having us here to spread the word. We need to spread the word to have more people understand the value and the impact that mentoring is also fun as well and accessible. All it takes is 4 hours a month for one year to become a big brother or a big sister and throughout our program, especially in the on boarding process, we get to know the adults and their interests. The things that drive them and what gets them motivated to mentor children and similarly, we get to know the child and see what things... the access that they have yet to develop. Knowing that they have a lot of potential, yet fully explore or fully develop yet for having that mentor. So... Right... They would not have been able to see certain things about themselves and so we draw that out from them through this process. So you find out what each ones interests are. It's almost like a match making service right? Yep. So you find out that they're compatible and then what kinds of things do they do together..."