One of our mentors is studying abroad this semester. Mary is spending three months in Spain and is staying in contact with her Little Brother by emailing us letters to read to him at school. Christian is in 2nd grade and loves his Big Sister! After reading him Mary's letter, he folded it into a very small square and stuck it deep into his pocket so he wouldn't lose it. Then, he asked staff to write the letter below (word-for-word).
Hola! I have found a new species of spiders, but I don't know what to call it. It is plain brown with no shapes or patterns and it doesn't have an hour glass so it can't be a brown widow. So, it has to be a new species! I'm still trying to figure out what kind of lizard the plain white ones are with patterns on their backs. They aren't in my reptiles and amphibians book you gave me, so I don't know their names. I'm still trying to study them. I have three in my tank. There's another one that suns on my mom's car, but he runs away whenever I try to catch him. He's a sneaky little fellow! I named him Trickster.
Guess what? I caught the fastest lizard on Earth - the race runners. I read about them in the book you gave me. Have you seen any new kinds of lizards in Spain? Can you tell me if you do? I really hope you are having fun in Spain! I am trying really hard to stay focused in school. I miss you a lot and I can't wait to see you again!
Your Litte Brother, Christian
Big Brothers Big Sisters, in partnership with leading researchers, has developed a system to assess the progress of children in our program in real time. The tools provide us the capability to measure and report on the success of individual matches and the communities we serve with a rigorous methodology that is unmatched in the mentoring community.
These measurements, including our Youth Outcome Survey, provide us with actionable insights about how we can continually deepen our impact and improve our service to children. This essential data allows us to create a strong framework for real-time assessment of positive outcomes for our youth.
January 2012 brought us our first ever Youth Outcomes Survey report. The survey found that youth in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs (more than 83% in Community-Based programs and 73% in School-Based) maintained or saw improvement in three targeted outcome areas - educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors and socio-emotional comptetency. Youth progress in these areas is linked to longer-term outcomes, such as high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency and job readiness.
Locally, we utilize the Youth Outcome Survey in conjunction with other tools. Children in our Bigs Inspiring Scholastic Success (BISS) program who met with a mentor for 12 or more hours, showed amazing gains:
The Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Outcome Survey report found that Little Brothers and Little Sisters felt more competent about doing school work after having a mentor. Think about all of the awesome things you can do for a child, just by spending an hour a week with him or her. If you are interested in becoming a part of this amazing organization, contact Jaime David at (904) 829-9986.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: www.bbbs.org
Seth is one of our Littles and is the recipient of a cool scholarship. When the Alligator Farm offered a scholarship to one of our Littles, we immediately thought of Seth. He made many improvements last year including becoming more responsible with his homework, learning to be patient and improving his behavior. Seth will be attending one of the Zoo Camps and he is extremely excited! He's counting the days until his very first camp experience. Thanks to businesses, like the Alligator Farm, who partner with us and donors who think of Big Brothers Big Sisters when they give, kids like Seth have opportunities they normally wouldn't have. Our partners and donors help expand children's horizons. They open doors and create possibilities.
Seth and his Big Brother, Sean, have been matched since November. Sean meets with Seth during the school year once or twice a week. They work on school assignments, read books, play outside and just hang out together. Seth loves Sean and is known for changing his hair style to mirror Sean's. When the two are together, you can see how important their relationship is to each other. They are a perfect match! Big Brothers Big Sisters relies on our dedicated mentors as well as our donors and partners. Thank you to all who support our organization. If you would like to chat about how you can start something with Big Brothers Big Sisters, contact Jaime David at (904) 829-9986 x12.
Enjoying Florida's Beauty w/ Big Sister
Big Sister, Robin, and Little Sister, Madison, went on an amazing trip. Here are Robin's reflections on their time together:
My Little and I spent 36 hours together on the West Coast of Florida. She and I were matched 4 1/2 years ago and this was our first over night trip*.
Saying we had a wonderful time, not to mention the bonding that took place, is an understatement. We went non-stop every waking minute. I was afraid my Little would wear me out but actually I believe I wore her out!
We had a 3 hour ride to our destination which gave us lots of time to talk. And talk we did about everything!
After arriving, our first adventure was snorkeling in Manatee Springs. But first Madison baited a crab trap and put in the water hoping she would have crab to add to our supper.
Once at the springs, Madison commented on the beauty of the underwater rocks and the blue clear water. She and I both snorkeled, saw fish, and enjoyed the beauty of the springs. After our swim we walked down the boardwalk to the river and watched the Sturgeon jump.
We got back in time to cook supper, which was a seafood boil. And yes, Madison had one crab in her trap which we added to our shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn boil. Madison enjoyed the boil which was something she had never had before.... and we both liked the fact that the only dish to wash was the pot we boiled in.
Madison was anxious to catch more crabs and must have checked the trap 10 times before dark. And she did catch one more and one more the next morning. So twice we boiled crab.
That evening we took a walk and went to see the sunset. Madison took lots of pictures. By dark, we both were pretty tired but not too tired for Madison to teach me a new game called Mancala. But one game was enough for the two of us as we were both exhausted. I checked on Madison not too long after we said goodnight and she was already sound a sleep.
We got a early start the next morning and headed out with my kayak. We spent a few hours swimming and kayaking before lunch and packing up to head home. On our way back to St. Augustine, we wore our bathing suits and stopped at Fanning Springs State Park and, with mask in hand, went snorkeling at our second spring. This spring was full of big fish and lots of small shells. Madison collected 50 to take home.
At the end of the 36 hours, we were absolutely as close as sisters.... and Madison’s favorite adventure was snorkeling at Manatee. And so was mine.
Can hardly wait till next summer!
*Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Johns County has specific overnight visit guidelines that coummunity-based matches are required to adhere to.
When talking with individuals who are interested in volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, many want to know if mentoring a child just one hour per week really makes a difference. My answer is always, "most definitely"! I am a Big Sister as well as the Program Manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Johns County and I've seen how much one person can impact a child in as little as one hour per week.
I mentor a little boy named Tomie. In just one hour, I connect with him. I give him my undivided attention, I do not judge him and I am authentic when I voice that I want him to achieve success in life. The connection blossoms when he becomes engaged in conversation and begins to let me into his world. The look in his eyes, when he realizes that I genuinely care about him, reminds me of how much I love working for Big Brothers Big Sisters and why mentoring is so important.
Mentoring is about relationships, connections and positive impact. Impact can appear in the form of a smile, increased confidence or excitement about a class assignment. In just one hour per week, we can give a child the confidence to overcome challenges, improve relationships and avoid risky behaviors. Working with and mentoring children bring such joy to my life. I want to share with others that, in just one hour, you can do some awesome things for our community. For more information, contact us by calling (904) 829-9986 or submitting a contact form. - Jaime David