By Kimberly Paulk, SHARECharlotte.com, a free, easy and local website that makes it easy to learn about and engage with our local nonprofits.
The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. ~Steven Spielberg
Jacob’s quiet brown eyes have seen a lot. Since his mom died three years ago following a car accident, he and his brother and sister have lived with his grandmother. It’s been tough for her to keep her now 9-year-old active, sports-loving grandson engaged in the activities he loves.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Charlotte makes it possible for kids like Jacob to have positive relationships in their lives that provide encouragement and friendship. Volunteer mentors, called “Bigs,” are matched with kids, called “Littles,” through a variety of programs.
Community-Based Mentoring – These are one-to-one outings and activities where Bigs and Littles get together to do things they enjoy, like taking a walk in the park, playing catch or going to a museum. Some Bigs meet their Littles on the weekends. Others get together with their Littles in the evenings. Each match is unique and develops a schedule that works for them.
School-based Mentoring – Although it takes place at schools, the School-Based Mentoring program isn’t limited to the classroom. Of course, some Littles do talk with their Bigs about class, or do homework, or read together, but it’s perfectly fine to shoot hoops in the gym or play on the playground.
mentor2.0 – This innovative new program is teen focused and matches professionals in Charlotte as mentors with high school students from Charlotte’s Harding University High School. The mentors help the kids achieve their career, academic, and personal goals with a specific focus on helping them prepare for college. It’s a flexible mentoring model that only requires 4 to 6 hours per month.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Charlotte’s mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. But really, Jacob wasn’t thinking about all of that. He hoped for a Big Brother so he could have someone to share his interest in baseball and football with, and to have someone “who does fun things with you and that you can look up to.” At the end of the day, mentoring is really all about starting a friendship, providing guidance and inspiring kids to reach their potential.
January is National Mentoring Month, which makes this the perfect time to get involved. Check out the opportunities below, and visit SHARE Charlotte for more info.
Community-based Mentor – Build a relationship with and mentor a child. Get together with your Little 2-4 times a month (or more if you’d like!)
School-based Mentor – Visit your Little at school 2-4 times per month. Partner schools in Mecklenburg County are Cornelius Elementary, Nations Ford Elementary, Reid Park Academy, and Walter G. Byers School.
mentor2.0 – This program is currently full, but you can get on the wait list to be a volunteer. Meanwhile, consider being a community- or school-based mentor!