Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Jackson County match at risk youth with positive role models, men and women who live and work in Jackson County. As part of the Bigs in Schools program, mentors volunteer to spend their lunch, at least once day a week, with their little at their school. They help them with homework, work on reading, play games and talk, among other things. Learn and Serve Michigan Center is also part of the site based program for BBBSJC where teens mentor youth in the lower grade levels. For the children in these programs, measurable improvements have been made in their lives in the areas of decision making, sense of future, academic performance, attitude toward school and classroom behavior. Just this year over 80 kids have benefited from site based mentoring. The continuing struggle for BBBSJC is the number of children needing mentors greatly surpasses the number of mentors currently available to volunteer.
It’s amazing how just a little time and commitment can make such a huge difference in the life of one child. Here is just one example of how a mentor can positively impact a young person’s life. Brittney Wright and her Little Sister, Lenajah, are sisters in more ways than one! They have a lot in common, including an interest in just having a good time! They are both on the quiet side, and their flair for fun is not immediately apparent to the casual observer. However, when you put the two of them together, fun just happens! As an accountant at Consumers Energy, Brittney is a busy single gal who wanted to give back to the Jackson community and chose to do so by becoming a Big Sister. In March of 2012, she and Little Sister, Lenajah, were matched in the Site-Based Program at McCulloch Academy and they made an instant connection. In no time, they were talking about seeing one another in the community, as well as at school.
Over the past two years, the two of them have participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters events, such as the Halloween Party, Karaoke Night and the annual skating party. Brittney took Lanajah to a girls-only program at Consumers Energy called Girls on the MOVE. But mostly they meet at school, sometimes during the recess-lunch period and sometimes afterschool if they have planned a special outing.
Since Lenajah will be “graduating” to The Middle School at Parkside” next year, they are working on getting Lenajah ready for that transition, drawing on Brittney’s recollections about the challenges of Middle School. Lenajah’s mom says that she appreciates Brittney’s input in helping her daughter grow into a young woman who is learning how to express her own personality.
This year Brittany received the award as Site-Based Big Sister of the Year in recognition of her outstanding contributions as a Big Sister. This might not be a match made in heaven, but it’s pretty close.