Having his family's support along with the chance to be exposed to different things he never may have had the opportunity or ability to do otherwise are large factors of how Jordan got enrolled in the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Being part of the program has had a major impact on the high school freshman's life.
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is recognized as the premier one-to-one mentoring organization with a tradition reaching back more than 15 years in Lycoming County. The mission is to provide successful mentoring relationships for all children ages 6 to 16 who need and want them. The strategy is through role modeling, guidance and friendship; the volunteers fill a void for children who are critically in need of stable and supportive bonds with caring adults.
Volunteers for BBBS are known as "Bigs." These mentors are assigned children with numerous different environmental factors such as children in low-income households, children with an incarcerated parent, and children not living with two parents.
“Big” Curtis Fay of Williamsport, right, with his “Little” Jordan.
Curtis Fay of Williamsport has been a Big for four years.
"I was very impressed with the BBBS program because it plays such a positive influence in the children's lives, and that's what made me decide to become a volunteer," Curtis said. "I speak to my Little, Jordan, two or three times a week and usually get together every weekend for some sort of activity. Last weekend we decorated a Christmas tree together."
Along with school-related activities, the Bigs offer support and assistance in building self-confidence, expressing how the child feels, relationship building and respect for others.
"The impact of the professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships not only changes children's lives, but also has a positive ripple effect that directly contributes to stronger schools, brighter futures and better communities," explained Peggy Reichenbach, executive director of BBBS of the Central Susquehanna Valley.
"Statistics show that children enrolled in the BBBS program improved their sense of their own future; and new, productive areas of interest. The mentoring helps with academic improvement and general attitude toward school," Reichenbach added. "One major improvement includes the significantly increased ability to avoid delinquency, substance abuse and early parenting."
"I help Jordan with his school work, but it is not only activity we participate in. He really enjoys math and the construction program provided by the school, so I get to help with that," Curtis said. "Also, my parents own a farm in Troy and I take him there to ride four-wheelers or go hiking in the woods. He has also helped in collecting and making maple syrup, which he really enjoyed."
"If you think back to your youth, think about the person in your childhood who shared new experiences and ideas with you. Perhaps it was a teacher, a coach or a grandmother. Regardless, they introduced some magic into your world and your eyes opened like wild flowers. By becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, you too can turn little bits of magic into big moments in a child's life," Reichenbach added.
"Being a Big really inspires me. Helping Jordan accomplish tasks and doing activities he wouldn't ordinarily have the opportunity to do make me have a great feeling of fulfillment," Curtis added. "I enjoy the positive influence I have created in his life."
Through its annual funds distribution process determined by community volunteers, Lycoming County United Way allocated $15,000 to Big Brother Big Sisters for the mentoring program.
"We're pleased to be able to fund Big Brothers Big Sisters because the approach is all about prevention of problems in the future," explained Scott N. Lowery, executive director of Lycoming County United Way. "This program unites the agency case managers, volunteer mentors, and parents-guardians who work together to deter the occurrence of problematic behavior in youth before they are able to take root. It is better to build a strong boy or girl than try to mend a broken man or woman."
For more information, or ways to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit the Web site at www.bbbsofcentralpa.org, or call 286-3127. For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to support the campaign that funds programs like these, visit www.lcuw.org or call 323-9448.