Click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 Transforming the lives of children facing adversity Terry Hickey is the President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake. A local affiliate of the youth mentoring 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, BBBSGC nurtures children in adverse circumstances by providing them with dedicated adult mentors in a one-to-one basis. Founded in 1904, BBBS enjoys an international reputation as a leading charitable organization today. When surveyed, 83% of former “Little” siblings agree that their relationships in the program instilled them with enduring, positive values. Adults interested in becoming mentors can sign up at biglittle.org. Terry Hickey spoke with Baltimore Sun reporter Sloane Brown for this interview. SLOANE BROWN: On your wishlist, where would you like to see the organization in five years? We have a wait list of almost a thousand people. We’re serving hundreds less children than we did back in the early 2000s when there was lot of federal money. We’re building back again, with individual donations, corporate support, and local foundations and funders. It’s the smart long-term thing, but it has been hard. We’re a function of staffing. We’re there for our Bigs and our Littles and their families, so for us to grow, we have to grow our people. It’s just the way it is. So, it’s been slow and incremental. We need to tackle that wait list. The United Way, and the Casey Foundation, and others have stepped up and given us emergency funding, post-riots—emergency funding for mentoring, for us to bring on temporary staff to continue to match at this lightning rate. If we can cut that wait list in half in the next year, and if we can open up the corporate eyes to what mentoring really means—whether you’re going to fund us or not—what if every company can do what PayPal just did, and call us and say, “Can you come up and talk to our 2000 employees? We’d like to get 50 Bigs.” What if we could get every company, as one element of what they do, exposing their folks to that? If we can give a mentor to every child—both through Big Brothers and other mentoring programs—every child that needs one can have a mentor in their life, we will transform this city. We will transform those pockets of poverty in other parts of the state. We will. We just have to do it. So anything that you feel that we haven’t covered that you like to mention? Yeah. We have to get people to our website. So for everybody who’s watching [or reading] this—and I know there are a lot of people that will—we need mentors. I hate to say this, but we need men. Men get stuck in the pipeline. Men are really excited, but then they don’t get their application in. I won’t take it personally. No, no. We’d love you. We’re placing women every day, but we need men, and we need a continuous stream of mentors for women. We need women who are interested in mentoring older girls—you know 13- to 16-year-olds who are trying to focus on getting into college. Maybe they’ve had some trouble with the law, which is an increasing problem for teen girls, we need those folks. We need mentors in general, but we need men to step up. Just fill out the darn paperwork, come on in. After matching, the national data shows men stay committed to their Little longer than women do. So it’s harder to get men to commit, but when they do, they stick around. That’s the weird formula. Your guess is as good as mine. Biglittle.org. You go on there—there’s this big volunteer button, you click on it, you fill out a couple of fields, our people will get to you. If a man walks in our door tomorrow, does all their paperwork, wants to be matched—particularly in Baltimore city—we can have you a Little Brother in about month. Never been able to do that or say that before. Really? How long did it used to take? It could take a couple of months, depending on background checks and where kids live and what neighborhood you want to go into, but we’re matching. And, if your company—if you just want to hear, get a concentrated, half-an-hour dose of how you can transform particularly your millennial employee base through mentoring? Mentors make amazingly engaged employees. It really does work. We just need to hear from you. We will lay it out, but we need to get those phone calls, we need to have people stopping in. Biglittle.org.
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