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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga & Youth Mentorship

by | Featured, Impact Stories, Youth Success

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga makes meaningful mentorship matches between adult volunteers and children in the Chattanooga community. 

Mentorship is a key component of Youth Success – a healthy relationship with an adult can provide stability and emotional safety for kids that need it. When we invest time and energy in our youth community, we invest in their futures as contributing members of society. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga does exactly that. Their mission is “to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.”

During the 2019-2020 academic year, United Way of Greater Chattanooga employees participated in an after-school workplace-based mentorship program, called Beyond School Walls, with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Our staff members who were able to participate were paired with a “Little Brother or Sister” from East Lake Academy’s middle school classes. The students came to our office once a week after school to spend time with their “Bigs.” We participated in group and paired activities, as well as discussions and spent time learning about one another’s lives. Our Littles got to see what it’s like to have an established career, and we got to hear about their experiences at school and home. The experience was uplifting for both mentors and mentees. Some of the United Way of Greater Chattanooga Bigs have offered to share their thoughts about our partnership and time with Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

Carmen Hutson LCSW, Director of Stability and Community Programming

“I really enjoyed being part of Big Brothers Big Sisters Beyond School Walls program and working with my assigned ‘little’. It was a great experience all around – it was an opportunity for me to share some knowledge I have gained over the years and for my little to remind me of the importance of giving back to the community. Education is one of the most important things we can give to our youth, and it will be with them for the rest of their lives. Sharing with them how education helped me to get to where I am today may have given my little the motivation to continue with her education and an understanding about why it’s important. On the other hand, my little reminded me what life was like when I was in middle school. It makes me smile right now just thinking about her – how she giggled about boys and wanted to act ‘cool.’ It took me back to a time forgotten. It’s about mutual respect.”

Percy Garcia-Rosell CPA, Director of Finance and Analytics 

“Mentorship is a two way street. My little brother and I shared food, thought, laughter and play. It was a highly rewarding experience. I am eager to participate again in the upcoming school year.”

Mary Kathryn Levy, Director of Women United and Community Engagement

“Having a ‘little’ gave me a great deal of perspective. Being a teenage girl is hard. Though it’s been many years since I was a teen, I do remember the pressure surrounding middle school and high school. As a woman, I wanted to encourage my little to believe she can accomplish anything with hard work. We often talked about what it meant to balance work, personal life, relationships and the responsibilities of being a successful woman in today’s world. And the experience with my little was not one-sided – she brought so much joy to my week! We always had fun playing games and just getting to know each other.”

Noah Reaves, Marketing Coordinator

“My time serving as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters was an eye-opening experience that I’m very thankful for. My ‘little’ and I met every other Wednesday, where we would discuss what he learned at school, how he was doing in sports, what my job was, what his future career goals were and more! What I enjoyed most was being able to talk to him about his personal interests and see him open up as he began to trust me. It was also great to see him interact with other kids in his mentor class and talk to other mentors who were there, too. 

I would strongly encourage our community to participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship programs, because you never know what each session will hold. Sometimes you’re talking about Saturday night’s basketball game or the funny joke that was told at lunch. And other times you’re talking about what a job in marketing looks like or how your little can study better for a test. Either way, you are both gaining something from your time together.” 

There are a number of ways to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga. 

They provide multiple avenues for mentorship – you are not limited to a workplace mentorship program if you want to serve as a mentor. There are site-based programs, where you meet with your little at a specific location, as well as community-based programs, where you and your little explore the community together. There are also ways for college students to get involved, like the UTC Bigs program. Whatever your schedule allows, BBBS has a way for you to mentor. Visit their website to learn more about their programs and how to get involved. 

Investing in the youth of today is one of the best ways to take care of our future community. What we do together today determines how we LIVE UNITED tomorrow.