Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County and BBBS of Metro Detroit will soon merge to become a larger chapter in Michigan as Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southeast Michigan.
With the partnership of the two affiliates, the organization hopes to increase the number of mentorship opportunities for adult volunteers and kids.
“The first priority for us is being able to serve more kids,” Jennifer Spitler, interim CEO of BBBS of Metro Detroit and executive director of BBBS of Washtenaw County, said. “Right now, there's too many kids on our waitlist because we need more volunteers. We want to offer additional opportunities, programs for volunteers to engage in and for kids and families to enroll in.”
Spitler has served Michigan’s BBBS of Washtenaw County for over 20 years.
“With the merger, we can find better fits for people. Not everybody is a fit for the community-based programs and not everybody is a fit for the school-based programs. Or, we're not at their school. So trying to create new program opportunities was really one of the things that we felt as two entities we could leverage and do better together.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America operates in communties all across the United States. With a mission to provide children with one-on-one youth mentorship, it offers 12 Michigan chapters affiliated with Washentaw.
The organization often opens the door to new opportunities for the kids mentored. That often involves helping the children take positive risks.
“Our organization did a quantitative study years ago where we asked all the Bigs and Littles what has been the greatest impact to you in confidence, academics, and risk behaviors. We learned that the biggest impact was taking risks. Being in the program gave them confidence to do things like try out for a sports team, or, try out for student council.”
Spitler hopes more children will continue to grow in the program with the aid of their mentors.
“When kids feel good enough to put themselves out there and take a risk – succeed or fail, because we all have those. I'm just really moved by those moments.”
To find out more about how to become an adult mentor or enroll a child in BBBS of Washtenaw County, visit the organization's website.