Philanthropy A to Z
B – Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Text by Christina Galt
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Cape and Islands was founded in 1974 and has been serving the community of Cape Cod for 45 years. As a youth mentoring agency, they match children in the community with a caring local adult volunteer, who will act as their mentor.
At present, the organization runs three programs: their community-based program, site-based program and their campus-based program. The community-based program, their “traditional program”, sees “Bigs and Littles” get together two to three times a month, go out into the community and participate in activities that are free or low cost. Their site-based program, developed over the past five years, allows Big Brothers Big Sisters to partner with local elementary schools in high need areas, while also working with local employers who’s employees take their lunch break to be a mentor to a Little once a week during the school year. The last program that they run is their campus-based program, where they partner with the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, pairing 55 children from Bourne and Wareham with a cadet Big Brother or Big Sister.
Before entering into the program as a Big, adult volunteers must first undergo background checks and an in-person interview with a staff member at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Currently, these interviews are virtual due to COVID-19. The imbalance of male to female volunteers is one that Big Brothers Big Sisters is often trying to level in the hopes of providing more male role models for young boys. “Boys are referred to us at a rate four times greater than girls,” explains Regional Director J.R. Mell. “In contrast, for every male volunteer, four female volunteers sign up.”
In addition to volunteers, the organization also relies on the support of donors. This year, like so many nonprofits, Big Brothers Big Sisters had to cancel many of their fundraising events. However, the organization continues to support youth across the region, pairing about 400 children throughout the Cape and Martha’s Vineyard with a Big Brother or Big Sister.
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