NEW BRITAIN – A call is out from Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters to recruit more mentors for statewide children in time for the fall season.
The campaign, 80 for Autumn, hopes to encourage at least 80 male and female mentors for the 132 children that is currently on a wait list. Of the 132 children, over 90 are boys.
“The numbers fluctuate daily so while we’re looking for both male and female mentors, we have an emphasis for male mentors right now because of the need,” said Tara Gill, director of Community Programs at Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters. “We can of course match our boys to female mentors, and we have, but that depends on a case-by-case basis. The match has to be the right fit for both the Big [mentor] and the Little [mentee].”
Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters is an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the 116- year-old national youth mentoring organization. Based in Hartford, Nutmeg offers its life-changing programs to at-risk children in 132 of the state’s 169 municipalities.
Being a Nutmeg mentor is an easy process, said Gill. “The thing about being a mentor is there are no job descriptions or qualifications. It just comes down to the person wanting to do it. We’re always looking for good people who are responsible, committed and want to make a difference in a kid’s life.”
The emphasis for male mentors comes from the fact that most boys on the list are looking for a consistent male figure in their lives, said Gill. “For a lot of families, it’s important for their boys to have a positive male figure. It’s important for these boys to see adult males stepping up and showing that they keep promises, that they follow through, and teach positivity and respectfulness through model behavior.”
Big Brother Jonathan Solano, a New Britain resident who is matched to 11-year-old Javan Silva, also from New Britain, said the biggest thing that mentors do for the kids is by being a positive role model.
“It’s all about what they see and observe, that’s how they learn how they should be when they grow up,” Solano said. “For boys, when they have a strong male figure in their lives, it helps them define or choose what kind of person they will be in the future.”
Solano has been matched with Javan since last October and the pair bonded quickly. Throughout the pandemic, Solano kept in touch with Javan and once covid-19 restrictions lifted, they were able to start doing more activities together and hanging out.
“Most recently I took him and his siblings roller skating. It was his first time but he stuck to it and had a great time, I was so proud of him,” Solano said. “With the nice weather, we’ve been kayaking, indoor rock climbing, and getting ice cream. It’s important to get him out of the house, especially after being isolated for so long.”
Speaking of the recruiting campaign, Solano said he wants to emphasize how easy it is to become a mentor and the rewarding experience that it has been for him.
“If you’re thinking about it, just do it,” he said. “Send in an application or email about your interest and talk to the people in the program. They helped me set up for success and everything’s been great.”
Gill also wanted to point out the process does not require a huge time commitment.
“The average time is about six to 10 hours a month. It’s not as intimidating as some people think and we hope that will help encourage potential mentors to apply,” she said.”
For more information, visit: nbbbs.org