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Jenny Martin

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of America
April 26, 2011

I first became involved in our local Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Homer, Alaska as a volunteer member of their Advisory Council. I assisted with the monthly newsletter and organizing monthly group activities for Bigs & Littles. I also helped with their annual fund raising campaigns. It was very rewarding to hear the laughter of the adults and kids during the group activities and bowling tournaments and it only took four hours or less a month of my time. I am now lucky enough to work for our local program. On my wall I have pictures of all of our current matches - kids and adults with huge smiles. When new Littles enroll in our program, they immediately gravitate to that wall of pictures. BBBS does not charge for its services and all of our Bigs are volunteers. Each BBBS program is supported through state and federal grants, and also by their local communities. So many of the businesses and individuals in our little town have donated graciously to keep our program up and running - either donating money, services or materials such as office supplies or equipment. Our budget is as small as our office - but we make it work due to all the great volunteers and community support. It costs about $2000 to match one child and maintain their match each year. Every little donation helps! We have been able to match more than 200 Bigs & Littles in our own small community and average now about 40 current (open) matches a year. It is a great program to support and the rewards last lifetimes.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

"Littles" (children) in our program have improved in areas of self esteem and confidence, school performance, social skills, and problem solving. Bigs (adults) in our program report great feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment through spending time with a Little and being apart of their lives.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Provide more opportunities for state and federal grants in areas of mentoring. I've recently attended presentations on brain development in teenagers. The research strongly supports the need for positive mentors in teen's lives as their brains go through a dramatic and challenging growth spurt.

MY ROLE:
Professional with expertise in this field & In past, Volunteered with group activites and fundraising. Currently a staff in program.