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Patriotic Article
Noble Efforts

By USMC Cpl. Christopher Duncan

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MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (MCN, 3/4/2010) — The oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the United States, since its inception in 1902, is reaching out to Marine Corps Base Quantico and asking Marines and sailors to be a positive influence on the development of children through mentorship.

According to the Big Brother Big Sister program, it has been the leading one-to-one youth service for more than a century, developing positive relationships that have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of young people.

Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers mentor children ages 6 through 18, in communities across the country. Part of the mission is to help children reach their potential through professional support with the assistance of caring role models, said Lindsay Edwards, a match and enrollment specialist with Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“Anyone can be a mentor,” said Edwards. “You don't need any special training. Specialists will train you as well as support you throughout your entire match.”

An important part of being matched with a “little,” is telling the match specialists about your interests, likes and dislikes. This is a crucial factor in the selection process to ensure children are matched with compatible mentors.

“You just need to be yourself and want to have fun.” said Edwards. “We cross-reference personality types and consider what both the Bigs and Littles are looking for in a mentor and mentee to find the best match.”

Though relatively short, the commitment is very serious and unfortunately many potential mentors have the impression that it is only troubled youth who need mentorship.

“Some of these kids just want a friend and someone to look up to because their parents work all the time or they don't have many positive influences in their lives,” said Janelle Betancourt, an enrollment specialist and campus pals coordinator at the Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program asks all of its volunteers if they are able to make a commitment of at least one year and a minimum of one to two hours a week.

“During that time our volunteers are supported by a match support specialist for the entire match so they can always be contacted,” said Edwards. “We contact volunteers each month for the first year of their match to see how things are going.”

To become a mentor there are several requirements, including a brief interview, a background check and Department of Motor Vehicles check. Volunteers must have their own vehicles with insurance and a valid driver's license.

“You can also attend a volunteer new mentor training session prior to being matched or even interviewed,” said Edwards. “In the course, potential mentors learn more about what it means to be a Big, they discuss potentially challenging scenarios and interact with currently matched Bigs or Bigs that will soon be matched.”

Training sessions are held the last Saturday of every other month at 9 a.m. and generally last approximately two hours at the Rappahannock Big Brothers Big Sisters agency in Fredericksburg.

“We have 84 children on our waiting list, many of the children being boys, so we are in great need of Big Brothers,” said Edwards. “We look forward to hearing from anyone who is interested involved as soon as possible.”

By USMC Cpl. Christopher Duncan
Marine Corps Base Quantico
Copyright 2010

Reprinted from Marine Corps News

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