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Philanthropy Cape-Style

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Text by Mary Stanley

There is no greater feeling than knowing you have made a difference in the life of a child, and that is precisely the reason why JR Mell, Regional Director for Cape & Islands Big Brothers/Big Sisters, is so passionate about his organization. “This is the most rewarding volunteer opportunity there is. What better feeling is there than knowing you make such an amazing difference in a kid’s life just by being there,” he says.

Mell became a big brother ten years ago and while his “little” is now in his 20s, he still maintains a relationship with him.

He said the need for mentors—especially male mentors—is great right now.

“I have never seen anything like this before where the need for mentors is rivaling our need for funding. The emotional and social loss over the past two years has impacted boys much more significantly than girls, and we have a long list of boys waiting for their big brothers,” says Mell.

“The longer these boys wait for their big brother, the worse the outcome is for the community,” he added.

One of the biggest misconceptions potential mentors may have, he says, is that there is a time commitment. “It only takes 2 to 4 hours every two weeks to devote to a little brother but those few hours will have the most far-reaching and significant impact,” he says.

And the cost to be a big brother is nominal. “I try to focus our entire mentoring program around activities that are little to no cost,” Mell says. Spending time with a little brother can be as simple as going to a park or going for a bike ride.

Typically, he says, men are attracted to three types of things: something they can fix; something that involves humor; and something that presents a clear solution. “Being a Big Brother meets all three of those criteria,” Mell explains.

“If you can show up twice a month, meet a kid where he’s at and have some fun, I promise you will get back so much more than you give.”

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