The Issue: Children Facing Barriers to Success
Prior to meeting Ian, Dimitri’s life was, by his own account, terrible. He and his sister lived with their father, who physically abused and neglected them, going so far as to starve both of them. When Dimitri was 10 years old, his father was sentenced to prison for 12 years and Dmitri moved in with his mother. A year later he met Ian. Ian took Dimitri on hikes and encouraged him to stay in school, to work hard, and to focus, assuring him that these choices, with a bit of persistence, would lead to a fulfilling, healthy, and successful life. Dimitri followed Ian's advice—and eventually nominated him for a national mentoring award.
Dimitri's story is not uncommon. Although the counties of Marin, Sonoma, Napa, and Solano are widely considered affluent, that assumption masks difficulties faced by the community. According to kidsdata.org, child abuse, truancy, and drop-out rates have increased significantly in each county since 2005. Yet mentor-mentee relationships, like the one shared between Ian and Dimitri, can help improve a child's life.
The Campaign: Sponsoring Mentorships for At-Risk Youth
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay to sponsor mentorships for at-risk youth. For every $500 this campaign raises, the organization can cover the activities costs of one mentor-mentee relationship for one year. Mentors may take their mentees to museums, movies, sporting events, or plays—cultural events that get them thinking—or simply sit with ice cream and talk. And the bond they form during this time works. According to a study by Harris Interactive, 90% of mentees said the relationship with their mentor helped them make better choices throughout their childhood, and 86% said this remained true into adulthood.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay
The mentors at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Bay donate their most valuable possession, their time, to continue a national tradition more than a century old. The volunteer mentors match up with a youngster from the Big Brothers Big Sisters wait list—typically an at-risk child who might come from a neglectful or abusive situation. The pair then meets in the community once a week, whether to hang out in the park, attend a sporting event, or simply chat about what’s going on in each others’ lives.
For the 1,600 children currently served in Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Solano Counties, the chance to spend time with a positive adult influence can have long-lasting effects. This regular interaction can help level the playing field for children facing an uphill battle to success, allowing them to grow, giving them encouragement to stay on the path to success, and helping them avoid negative influences. The evidence is in the numbers. According to the Big Brothers Big Sisters website, Littles are 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs and 52% less likely to skip school.
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