Shortly after I moved to Miami, I started volunteering for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Miami (BBBS). After completing grad school and starting a good job, I wanted to give back to the community and make a difference in someone else's life. I searched for various organizations and BBBS fullfilled everything I was looking for. I have been matched with my little brother T.J. for about 2 years now and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I truly enjoy spending time with TJ. Personally, I was fortunate enough to have an older brother who kept me in check, out of trouble and who gave me the friend and mentor I needed. Unfortunately, many kids do not have that luxury and it has been so rewarding to spend time with TJ and see him become more responsible in his school work as well as athletic training. BBBS did such an excellent job matching TJ and I and I am sure this will be a very long friendship! I can only highly recommend to anyone to volunteer as a big and sign up for BBBS.
I reached a point in my life where I felt I had time to volunteer. I contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami. I told them about myself, after a couple of months, I was matched with a delightful 10 year old girl. I always wondered how BBBS would be able to protect children from getting a "Big" who would not have the child's best interests at heart. From my experience, I quickly learned that the organization rigorously screens all potential Bigs and keeps a close eye on the relationship between Bigs & Littles. My time with my Little is absolutely the highlight of my week. Besides matching Bigs & Littles, BBBS sponsors great field trips, activities & holiday parties. BBBS is a top notch organization that makes a big difference in not only the children's lives but also the volunteer's. After spending a year with my Little, I attended her 5th grade graduation. The principal gives an award, voted on by all the teachers of a child who had risen up through a challenge and changed the most in positive way. The award is called the Phoenix Award and as the principal was describing the student before announcing the name, I knew who it was, my Little!
I have been a Big since 2005. I elected at the time to have my college organization branch of the NAACP to take on the task of community volunteerism. I feel in love with the aims and goals of Big Brothers and Big Sisters as well as see the pressing needs of funding and the recruitment of more volunteers especially men! I have been matched to my little for almost six years now and indeed it has been a pleasant and at times a rough journey due to the weathering of life. Despite my personal issues, I continue to press on with my match as well as having the assistance of my current match support specialist.
Being part of Big Brother's, Big Sisters has been a wonderful experience. My husband and I have enjoyed being Bigs and as we have been matched with the most wonderful Littles and their family. Big Brother's Big Sisters has given us a chance to not only help a child but also expeience the love and affection of a whole family. This family has become part of our extended family and we are greatful to be part of such a wonderful organization!!!!
I have been a Big Brother with BBBS of Greater Miami since 2009 and have seen first hand the incredible impact that the organization makes on the Miami area landscape and especially with respect to disadvantaged kids who would otherwise likely be part of the ever growing negative statistics. As someone who was raised in one of the local communities which is served by BBBS and now as a Big Brother, I'm incredibly humbled and proud to be part of BBBS and look forward to many more years together.
I was matched with my Little Brother just over a year ago. We've gone through so much together, and many of the experiences have been thanks to BBBS and its partners/donors that make it possible for matches to attend local community events that wouldn't necessarily be within my reach to share with my Little. Some of these great activities have been going to see Cirque Eloize, going to the Miami Seaquarium, Museum of Science, Marlins' game, Dolphins' football camp, and more. When I signed up for the program, I did it so I could help a kid in my community, but I've gotten so much more than that already. My Little (10 yo) has already asked me what will happen if he loses my number when he goes to college...Like the agency says "Little moments, Big Magic".
I was proudly given a little at Pine Villa Elementary. At first I noticed my Little was 11 years old and in the 2nd grade. I quickly started working with her on her reading. We read a different book every time I met with her, which was about once a week for approximetly an hour. Her reading Improved dramatically. She quickly started moving up on her reading grade level within a few months. By the end of the year she was above her grade level in the FCAT. I also noticed my littles grades were not accepatble her first grading period. She had D's and F's in both her class and conduct. She also had 2's and 3's in effort. By her next grading period she gradually started improving. By her 4th and final report card she obtained A's and B;s and 1's in effort. I am very proud to be a big sister. I really enjoyed every minute of it and wouldn't change the program for the world!
I contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami in August 1996 to express my interest in becoming a volunteer. My initial interest was in becoming a school based volunteer but the representative that I spoke to explained that as a Black male I was the least represented among Community based volunteers. I agreed to participate in the Community program and was matched shortly thereafter to a seven year old child. My match lasted eleven years and that seven year old boy is now twenty three years old, is a U.S. Army veteran and presently is pursuing a Nursing Degree. I was fortunate enough to be named Big Brother of The Year in 1998, which is the greatest individual honor that I have ever received. Big Brothers Big Sisters allowed me the opportunity to enter the life a young child who needed a friend, and thanks to their professional guidance and the variety of activities that are available for the matches, I was able to build relationships with many other volunteers. I was also able to watch young people who were not supposed to succeed become college graduates.
I cannot say enough positive things about BBBS. I have been a big brother to Antonio Menarde since 2003. He was 6 years old at the time and is now a sophmore in high school. We have shared everything together from movies to sports, school to vacation, and holidays to birthdays. BBBS has provided us an opportunity to grow together and learn from one another, and essentially Antonio has become part of my family. I highly recommend that everyone should be a volunteer with BBBS.