By Bracha Goetz, MA
You probably don’t even have to close your eyes, to conjure up the image of someone who served as a wonderful role model at an important point in your life. Nearly everyone has had an encouraging mentor at some time, who has made a positive impact. These special people usually come into our lives in the natural course of events (a family member, a teacher, a youth group leader), but sometimes a bit of orchestration is needed to make it happen.
In my role as coordinator of the Jewish Big Brother Big Sister Program, I get to observe the relationships between our volunteer mentors, or “Bigs,” and the children and teens in our community they serve, also known as “Littles.” It is an extraordinary relationship.
One parent said, “I believe that having a Big Sister for my daughter has impacted her life in so many ways. Because of this experience, my daughter is happier and more confident. They enjoy eating out together, going to movies, a Ravens game, or just texting when they want to catch up.”
There are so many stories of wondrous changes that come about through the efforts of devoted volunteers who are willing to spend just a few hours each month with a young person. Some may be playing basketball or baking challah; others meet each week just to schmooze and share a pizza. Each of them is role modeling for his or her Little Brother or Sister what it means to be a mensch, or a person of integrity and honor. Over time, mentors get to share their wisdom, skills, and experience. They focus on their mentee’s strengths, helping them to steadily grow and mature.
The truth is, whether we are young, or still young at heart and yearning to grow in certain ways, all of us can benefit from having a mentor – and from being one!
If you are interested in arranging for a child to have a Jewish Big Brother or Big Sister, or would like more information, please call 410-466-9200.
By Bracha Goetz, MA, Volunteer Coordinator, Jewish Big Brother Big Sister Program, Jewish Community Services
JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.