Hometown Highlight: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lubbock
For almost 50 years, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lubbock (BBBS) organization has helped thousands of children to provide them with “strong, enduring and professionally supported one-to-one mentoring.”
“The purpose is to support children in whatever their needs might be and allow them to see the potential in themselves, so they can go on and succeed not only in school but as they transition and go into adulthood,” said BBBS Executive Director Melissa Corley.
Children in need of BBBS’ services are referred to the organization by doctors, school counselors and word of mouth. The first step in being assigned a personal mentor is to complete an assessment which helps the organization determine the child’s learning needs, interests and what type personality would best fit for the child’s chosen mentor. The overall goal of this assessment is to match the child with a long-term mentor that will be able to relate to the child on a personal level through either sharing similar learning challenges or interests/personality type. Once the assessment is complete, the child’s profile is proposed to a mentor who can then meet with the child’s parents and child to get to know them better. The volunteer is then able to decide whether they are comfortable in becoming the proposed child’s mentor or if they would like to be matched with a different child.
Once the volunteer is matched, a BBBS Match Support Specialist will stay in regular contact with the volunteer to help provide assistance and feedback as to how to handle sensitive or challenging situations or offer ideas for mentoring sessions.
Mentoring sessions can be simple and often include spending one-to-one time with the child learning new things, helping with homework, playing board games, reading together or going on a walk. Corley said the important objective is to maintain communication with the child so that they feel they have a constant adult-figure in their life that they can build a healthy relationship with.
As a result of the mentoring sessions, the children often benefit from improved social and communication skills. According BBBS’ statistics, 85 percent of participants saw an improvement in classroom behavior and 90 percent experienced approved relationships with family members.
Serving hundreds of children ages 7 – 18 each year, Corley said there is always a great need for volunteers who are willing to commit the time to become a mentor. For those interested in becoming a volunteer, an application is available on the BBBS website. One can also contact the BBBS office at 806.763.6131 for more information about volunteering and services provided.