Why Latinos Need Mentors Too
My father died when I was six years old, leaving my mother to raise six children on her own in hard-scrabble Chicago. By the time I was in high school, like many boys looking for role models I found them in the wrong form. I joined a street gang and began using drugs.
Rather than write me off as another troubled kid, the pastor at my local church saw my potential. He took the time to let me know I mattered by offering advice and inspiration, which eventually led me to college. Rev. Modesto Lopez spoke to a small college and advocated for my acceptance, despite my poor grades. Because of his belief in me, I was granted admission. I completed four years in three and went on to earn a Master’s Degree. Without his mentorship, I truly do not believe I would have graduated from high school.
Today I am the director of Hispanic mentoring, vice president of strategic community engagement, and chief diversity officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. My life’s work is to offer the gift of mentorship to other Latino children.
As part of this effort, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America launched LatinoBigs.org, a Web site focused on raising awareness for mentoring as well as recruiting more Latinos as volunteer Bigs. While 20% of the Littles we serve nationwide are Latino, only 9% of our Bigs are Latino. We have an especially pressing need to recruit males.
As a community, we need to come together to help the next generation of Latino kids who need us to inspire them to reach their greatest potential. You don’t need a college degree or a high-paying job to be a caring mentor. We need every day role models to volunteer just a few hours a month to mentor a child. Our matches spend time shooting hoops, playing board games, reading a book, cooking or just hanging out. It’s incredibly fulfilling.
We match Bigs and Littles based on a number of factors including age, location and shared interests. Our matches are professionally supported by our local staff.
The new year has begun, and that makes it a great time to start mentoring. Let’s make this year one that can change a child’s life forever. So I urge you to consider becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister. It will be the best gift you ever give—or receive.
Please go to www.latinobigs.org for more information.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters
For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
Partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully pairs children (“Littles”) with screened volunteer mentors (“Bigs”) and monitors and supports them in one-to-one mentoring matches throughout their course. The organization holds itself accountable for children in the program to achieve measurable outcomes, such as higher aspirations; greater confidence and better relationships; educational success; and avoidance of delinquency and other risky behaviors. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are in single-parent and low-income families or households where a parent is incarcerated. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of about 350 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves nearly 240,000 children. Learn how you can positively impact a child’s life, donate or volunteer at BigBrothersBigSisters.org or LatinoBigs.org.