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Review for Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Northern New Jersey Inc, Mountain Lakes, NJ, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

My kids are grown and have gone off to college. I now have some extra time and wanted to give back in a productive and meaningful way. Helping children that are struggling, I thought was one of the best ways to help. I have seen through some of my children’s classmates how kids turn out as they reach adulthood when they do not have guidance and a support network. They have little ambition, never went to college and are working menial jobs with little or no prospect of a productive and happy life ahead. I knew of Big Brothers Big Sisters (“BBBS”) and thought that getting involved with them would be a great way to help a child in need and help them to become a happy and productive member of society.

After meeting with BBBS to discuss the commitment, expectations and all that is involved I decided to move forward. I filled out a lengthy questionnaire/application and BBBS called and questioned my references in great detail. One friend commented on how thorough they were in their questioning. I met my little on March 27, 2012. He was/is a great little 12 year old boy that is very happy and innocent despite his troubled past. A few years ago he and his 2 brothers and sisters had moved into a battered women’s shelter with their mother and for a while were split up into different households. They are now all back together but the father has dropped all contact with his children.

Over the past year we have gone biking, bowling, roller skating and miniature golfing, swimming, made pizza from scratch, built fires in the fireplace and watched football…. We have also had a couple of trips into NYC which he had never been to.

During all this time Stephanie from BBBS calls both my little and me on a regular basis. Her main and most important purpose is that the match is working and that a little boy in their trust is safe and being well taken care of. She also wants to know how it is working from my side and I know she would provide help if I was having trouble with the parent or child. Fortunately I have not needed that. While the safety of the children is of most importance to BBBS they are also careful to make sure at the first meeting between the Big and Little families do not take advantage of the Big mentors and layout for both sides what is and what is not appropriate and what the expectations should be of the other. This helps insure that the match and ultimatly their program is successful and grows to help all those children in need.

As a Big, BBBS has also provided great support and help for ideas on activities and through reaching out to local businesses to provide free or discounted activities. One great activity was a health day at a local YMCA where they had several contests including swimming that my Little very much enjoyed. They have also regularly emailed other activity suggestions that they have found on their own or through other Bigs in the program. Along with this they hold events several times a year where all their Bigs and Littles can gather for a fun afternoon.

It has been very rewarding experience for me. The feedback I get directly from my little; his excitement to see me, and from Stephanie through her calls to my little and his mother telling me he waits by the window for me all reinforce my commitment. I feel we are developing a strong bond that will help him feel secure and confident going forward in his own path of life. My little is lucky in that he has a great loving and supportive mother that recognized she could not do it all and reached out to BBBS to help all four of her children. Now as a part of the organization I see the difference it can make in a child’s life and how some of my own children’s classmates could be on much better paths had BBBS been a part of their childhoods.

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Very Well

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Role:  Volunteer