Freehold: Looking for a place to volunteer? Enjoy mentoring young people? Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties might be just the right fit for you.
The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders welcomed Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties to its workshop meeting last week and learned that the organization is in need of volunteers who could commit time to steering youths in the right direction.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters provides an invaluable service to Monmouth County,” Freeholder Director John P. Curley said. “I urge anyone who has an interest in providing a positive influence for these kids to contact this organization to see if they meet the criteria to serve as a mentor.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties matches mentors with children ages 6 through 16 years old. In 2011, the organization matched 476 youths with mentors. Mentors maintain these relationships for an average of 3½ years, which is better than the national average.
“Each one of us has had a mentor,” said William Salcedo, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Without a mentor to steer you in the right direction, it costs taxpayers a lot more in the long run with incarceration and welfare and a number of other pitfalls.”
Children being mentored range in age from 6 to 16 years old, Salcedo said, and most of them come from single-parent homes.
“Mothers and grandmothers work long hours throughout the day,” Salcedo said. “If we don’t mentor these kids, I guarantee gang members or drug dealers will, because these kids are looking for a family environment. If they’re not getting it from home they’re getting it from somewhere else.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters conducts pre-surveys and post-surveys to track the outcomes of those being mentored. The organization has found that children who receive mentoring through the program have better grades in school, better attitudes about school, and avoid risky behaviors such as drug or sex.
Extensive background checks are conducted to match children with the right mentors. To learn how you can become a mentor, visit www.bbbsmmc.org.
“I am impressed with the investigative procedure Big Brother Big Sisters goes through to get quality people who are of a high caliber,” Curley said. “This is a rewarding volunteer opportunity.”