Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island: Changing the World One Volunteer at a Time

By: Emily Hulbert

The time has finally come. Tests are coming to a close and the temperature is beginning to reach 70 degrees. Although most students’ eyes are not looking farther than the dog days of summer, there is a great opportunity for juniors and seniors to participate in next year. Whether you’re looking to fulfill CAS or NHS hours or just want to give your time to help a child, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island is looking for more volunteers to help make their program a success.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island (BBBSLI) is a Non- Profit Organization that provides mentors and role models to children of all predicaments. Having a positive role model to act as a support system or a source of guidance, is an invaluable gift for someone of any age. The mission and vision of the program is clearly stat20160510_155747ed on their website, www.bbbsli.org  :

To provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1- to- 1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever and that all children achieve success in life respectively.

According to Mrs. Nancy Travers, Director of Services, spending just a few hours each week with a Little can positively impact them both inside and outside of the classroom. “The impact of a mentor on the life of a child can be measured in many ways, but not all are tangible. Self-confidence and happiness are hard to measure, but academic success is trackable and nearly every “little” reported improved scholastic achievement. The possibilities for success are endless and we can change the communities on Long Island with the right volunteers.”

Volunteers are able to provide a comfort to their littles and give them hope that they can succeed. Some littles may come from negative family or housing situations, so having an encouraging role model can turn his/her life around.

Long Beach High School is lucky to have a Site Based Program at Lido Elementary School every Tuesday. During a Site Based Program, Littles meet with their Bigs for an hour to do homework and fun activities. Although an hour may seem like a short time, both the Littles and Bigs are able to build a strong and positive relationship, just by asking questions such as “What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?” or “How was your math test?”  

One person who is able to watch the Little and Big interaction first hand is Ms. Alana Famiglietti, the Case Manager for the Long Beach Site Based Program. A Case Manager is someone who supervises the Littles and Bigs and organizes fun events for them to participate in. From just one year in the 2015-2016 program, Alana has witnessed a multitude of transformations in the Littles.

“Each week, I have seen the Littles grow and develop empowering mentoring relationships with their Bigs. I have witnessed shy Littles who have become eager to talk to their Bigs. I have witnessed Littles who have learned to socialize with their Bigs and other Littles. I have witnessed Littles who learned how to trust and talk to their Bigs as a positive outlet. Most of all, I have learned the importance of one person making a difference in these Littles lives to empower them to go after their dreams and assure them that no dream is too big to achieve!”

In a world where people assume that everything will be given to them, it is important that the Bigs instill in their Littles the importance of dedication, hard work, and big dreams.

As much as the staff is happy with all that they have accomplished in helping the Littles, they are still faced with one obstacle; the need for more volunteers. Just recently, there has been a high demand of Littles who want to enter the program. Since there is not enough Bigs to be matched with the Littles, the Case Managers have to put the Littles on waiting list until a possible Big becomes available. This can take as long as a few days to a few months. The program is focused on promoting self worth and good morals to all of the Littles, but how can they do that without the needed amount of Bigs?

In order to make sure that their is a necessary number of Bigs, this organization has been trying to recruit high school students to join their site based programs. Although all high school juniors and seniors are welcome to apply, there is a great need for male Bigs to accommodate the great amount of male Littles.

When asked how those interested can apply Mrs. Travers said, “ Volunteers can apply to get involved at their school if there is a school based program and they are at least 16 years old. If they are over 18 they could volunteer to be a Big Brother or Big Sister on a one to one basis. Bigs are expected to commit for a minimum of a year and should plan to meet with their Little at least  twice a month.” It is important that all volunteers honor this commitment since the Littles are relying on their Big to show up and spend time with them.

Not sold on joining yet? Here is what some Long Beach High School Students involved in the program had to say:

“Being a big has had a great positive impact on my life. Knowing that I’m helping kids who don’t necessarily have the easiest life is great feeling.”

“If you enjoy working with kids I would definitely recommend joining next year. It’s a very rewarding experience.”

It can be tough balancing school work, sports, and extracurricular activities all at the same time, but giving just an hour of time to a child will not only change him/her for the better. It will also change you. Make a child smile by volunteering today. There is nothing better than making an everlasting connection with and impact on a child.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Big Brothers Big Sisters  intake specialist, Ms. Jacqueline Volpicella at (631)-273-1469 ext: 212 or see Mrs. Mcmahon in the guidance office for more information.
Please join Big Brothers Big Sisters on Saturday May 14th to participate in their “Walk for Kids’ Sake”, a 5K walkathon. The event is at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow and begins at 10:00 AM (Check in starts at 9AM). Their will be a picnic, music, bouncy houses and much other fun activities after the walk!

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