LatinaLista — Mentoring has long been known to make a difference in a person’s life. Usually, mentoring is thought to be for professional development or academic success but it can also be for an even more profound reason — just being present in someone’s life.
Children, who live in a single-parent or low-income family, are usually looking for an adult who will take the time to be with them and who isn’t worrying about the bills, taking care of siblings or too exhausted to spend quality time with them. For Latino children in these kinds of families, finding an adult who isn’t doing all of the above is as likely as a trip to Disney World.
But Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), a national mentoring organization for children in low-income, single parent, and military families or those who have a parent incarcerated, has been able to match eligible children with great role models — and they’ve done a good job. What the organization hasn’t been able to do as well is match Latino mentors with Latino children.
According to the organization, 20 percent of “Littles,” the children served by BBBS, are Latino. Yet, only 9 percent of “Bigs,” are Latino. To top it off, the demand for hombres is so high that the organization has trouble fulfilling the requests. The organization wants to change that, especially since 19 percent of the young Hispanics waiting to be matched with someone are boys.
To help recruit more Latino adults to be Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the organization has launched their first bilingual site specifically recruiting adult Latino role models.
Dubbed Latino Bigs, the site features stories of Latino BBBS matches; blog posts by a variety of Latino bloggers supporting the mission of BBBS and profiles of successful Latinos who know first-hand the importance of mentoring.
“With the launch of LatinoBigs.org, we celebrate progress we have made in employing culturally relevant mentoring approaches to guide and empower youth to succeed in life. At the same time, we recognize population trends and the demand to reach more children” said Hector Cortez, Vice President of Strategic Community Engagement, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “Our Hispanic Mentoring Initiative is founded on research affirming that family members are a Latino child’s first mentors. Recognizing that, we support families by carefully matching each child with the right mentor and providing ongoing support to the volunteer, child and family throughout the course of the long-term mentoring relationship.”