BOSTON (CBS) – Each month, WBZ Cares highlights a worthy non-profit organization, and tells the story of what that organization does for the community.
This month’s organizations are “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay,” which matches children from ages 6 to 14 with volunteer mentors, and The Big Brother Big Sister Foundation, which acts as the fundraising branch.
In the mentoring world, they’re called Bigs and Littles.
The mentors who have partnered with children often provide a positive role-model in their lives, according to Pastor Mark Scott of Dorchester, a member of the Youth Violence Reduction Task Force.
He and fellow member Larry Ellison, the president of the Minority Police Officers Association, says the program is especially important in the inner city, where a lot of kids grow up in a single-parent household.
“Being a police officer, a lot of times what I find is missing in a lot of the homes is a father. And that’s not just for the young men, it’s for the young women,” he said. “I see them making decisions on mate, it’s based on not having that solid foundation of a dad watching what is right behavior, and what is wrong behavior, and how they should be treated. So it’s trial and error for them and a lot of the times it doesn’t work out well,” he said.
Both men have served as big brothers over the years. Scott says it was a life-changing experience to mentor his 12-year-old “little” brother, who is now 21.
“Here is an adult, who says to a child, one child: ‘you matter‘ “said Scott. “To help him dance his way around, overcome, understand, interpret the obstacles he runs into. I just let him articulate. I can at least say, you are going to be okay, you are going to make it, you gots some brains, you gots some strategies for how you are going to avoid trouble and still manage to succeed in your life — which is what he did. ”
He adds that learning is a two-way street for both the mentee and mentor as well.
“He had a number of things that were just life, that he overcame. So I learned a little bit about toughness, grit and resilience.”
When Detective Ellison entered the police academy at the age of 18, he became a big brother to a troubled eleven-year-old boy.
“It really impacted me because I grew up without a dad,” he said “I found that was a key principle missing in his home, was he didn’t have a dad. And I said wow, I know how that impacted me, so maybe I can help be a positive male role-model in his life and I would give it a shot.”
Both Scott and Ellison are still in contact with their littles who are all grown up.