BigBrother Big Sister Essay

This essay has a total of 1670 words and 8 pages.

BigBrother Big Sister

The main two types of mentoring are natural mentoring and planned mentoring. Natural
mentoring occurs through friendship, collegiality, teaching, coaching, and counseling that
is formed from un-constructed planning (Newman, 1990, p. 41). In contrast, planned
mentoring occurs through structured programs in which mentors and participants are
selected and matched through formal processes (Newman, 1990, p. 43). There are many
different ways to describe mentoring, but they all boil down to one thing: a positive,
supportive relationship between a young person and a caring adult.

The most compelling data that we have shows the change in our American family structure.
Day there are alarming number of children with mental disorders and children being raised
in single parent homes has increased. In both areas it is shown that we need more
preventive care (Petersmeyer 1989). Other statistics are equally troubling: each day in
the United States, 3,600 students drop out of high school, and 2,700 unwed teenage girls
get pregnant (Petersmeyer 1989). As a society we have a responsibility to our youth to
help them become strong adults. My grandmother was always telling me that it takes more
then the immediate family to raise a child well, if a child is to be rear well it takes a
whole community contribution.

This paper is a comparison of two agencies, Big Brother Big Sisters of America and
Compeer. Big Brother Big Sister of America focuses on youth that are from single parent
homes. Compeer focus is on children with a mental disorder. The reason why I have chosen
these agencies are to show how the success of both and how each is similar to each other
but also how each agency focuses on a different area. I do believe that it shows as a
member of society and being a mentor we can make a difference in our youth today and our
future leaders of tomorrow.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America was started over ninety years ago. Big Brothers Big
Sisters of America (BBBSA) agencies have provided supportive, one-to-one relationships
between adult volunteers and youth living in single-parent homes. Today, BBBSA provides
about 75,000 young people with one-to-one supports (Public /Private Ventures, 1995a). In a
presentation of the BBBS services, Public/Private Ventures (1995a:4) stated the following:
Volunteer screening is a must and is a very strict procedure is to ensures the protection
of participating youth. Youth who want to take part are also screened which includes a
written application and oral interviews with both the parent and the child. In the BBBSA's
there are preconditions before a youth can take part in the program, the main focus is on
children that come from a single-parent household. Once the selection process is done the
mentor then moves on to a training program that teaches the developmental stages of youth,
communication skills, and relationship building tips to name a few. This is to help
volunteers in interacting with the child that they are match with, who is often of
different racial or economic backgrounds (para.12). Once the training is completed then
the matching process begins, which includes placing volunteers and youth according to
gender, and child, parent and volunteer preferences. Once a match is made then the match
couple is supervised, which includes biweekly phone contact with the volunteer and parent
during the first month, monthly contact afterwards, and quarterly contact with the child
(BBBSA, 2002).

Recent research by Public/Private Ventures (par. 12; 1995b) stated there is evidence that
Big Brother Big Sisters (BBBS) programs have many positive and socially important effects
on the lives of participating youth (BBBSA, 2002). National studies are showing that
participation in BBBS programs reduce illegal drug and alcohol use, improved academic
performance, behavior and attitudes, and improved peer and family relationships (P/PV,
1995a. par. 28). According to the Public/Private Ventures (par. 21), the youth that take
part in a mentor program showed the following: 46 percent less likely to begin using
illegal drugs; 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol; 52 percent less likely to
skip school; 37 percent less likely to skip a class; more confident of their performance
in schoolwork ;one-third less likely to hit someone, and getting along better with their
peers and families. Since BBBS has had such a positive impact on youth, which are mainly
from single-family homes, can the same concept be used with youth that suffer from
different kind of mental disorder? This was a question that could have been thought of by
the by the founders of Compeer.

"Compeer" means a companion who is also a peer or equal (Bordenkircher, p. 2). Loneliness,
failure, fear and loss of self-esteem are universal experiences of those who suffer from
mental illnesses (Bordenkircher, p. 6). A caring friend can help to restore some joy and
hope to a life that is often empty of both. Compeer program was started in 1973 in
Rochester, New York. In 1982, the National Institute of Mental Health chose Compeer as
successful program. They went on to fund the development of this program throughout the
nation (Bordenkircher, pp. 12-19). In 2003 Compeer is an organization with over 100
affiliates in the United States, Canada, and Australia. New York State leads the nation
with 25 Compeer programs. In 2002, 4892 Compeer volunteers provided friendship, advocacy
and support to 5935 children and adults diagnosed with mental illnesses. These volunteers
gave 186,662 hours of support during 2002(Bordenkircher, pp. 22-34). Compeer provides a
fun flexible volunteer opportunity that fits into almost anyone lifestyle. Volunteers, set
their own schedules, they can meet with their friend on a regular basis at mutually
convenient times to share activities that they enjoy such as movies, sports, shopping or
coffee and a chat. Many of the activities are free and sponsored by the Compeer Program
(Bordenkircher, pp. 33-38). I do believe the results are a gift of friendship, and shows
the results of personal growth and the opportunity to help another.

The screening process through compeer provides an opportunity to select adults who are
most likely to be successful as mentors by looking for individuals who already understand
that a mentor's primary role is to develop a friendship with a youth with a mental
disorder (Bordenkircher, pp. 41-45). Orientation and pre-match training provide important
opportunities to ensure that youth and their mentors share a common understanding and
develop realistic expectations of what they can accomplish. Ongoing staff supervision and
support of matches is very careful watch to ensuring that mentors and youth meet regularly
over a period of time and develop positive relationships (Bordenkircher, pp. 41-45).
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