Philanthropist and Real Estate Investor Michael Eckerman Highlights the Impact of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America on Youth Development
While it has never been blissfully easy to be a child or teenager these days, the pressures that young people face are extreme, alarming, and in many ways unprecedented; everything from bullying in school and online, to ongoing exposure to violence, drugs, alcohol and abuse. However, since the early 1900s, one organization has served as a source of practical support and a beacon of inspirational hope: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
“While most people have heard of Big Brothers Big Sisters, they are not familiar with the profoundly important work that that their network of dedicated volunteers, supporters, staff members and donors carry out in communities across the country each day,” commented Mike Eckerman, an experienced Phoenix, Arizona-based real estate investor, vacation rental property owners, and philanthropist who has supported numerous children’s charities and women’s charities. “They truly change lives for the better, and in some cases, they ultimately play a role in saving them.”
Big Brother and Big Sisters of America provides children 6–18 years of age who face adversity with one-on-one mentoring with a carefully vetted and matched adult mentor, which is supported by qualified, trained and accountable staff members. Mentoring is carried out in the community, in schools (classrooms, gyms and playgrounds), and in conjunction with local police through the organization’s acclaimed Bigs in Blue program.
“Bigs in Blue connects young people with police officers in their community, and seeks to foster strong, trusting relationships between children and their families with local law enforcement,” commented Michael Eckerman. “It helps bridge the communication gap and empowers children and families to take pride and ownership in their communities. It’s a truly win-win program and is making a big difference across the country.”
Another acclaimed Big Brothers Big Sisters of America initiative is the Amachi Program, which provides children of an incarcerated parent with enhanced support and guidance, so they can build a strong foundation for a happy, successful, and law-aiding life ahead vs. one that might find them following in their parent’s footsteps.
“Research suggests that children of incarcerated parents are, on average, six times more likely to be incarcerated themselves at some point in their lives compared to children whose parents have never been incarcerated,” According to Mike Eckerman, even if children of incarcerated parents do not end up in jail or prison, they face significant psychological pressures and obstacles that need to be addressed in a more targeted, enhanced, empathetic, and compassionate manner. The ground-breaking Amachi Program is definitely part of the solution and is enabling real results and hope for children and their families.
Funding for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America programs and operations are facilitated through corporate alliances, community partnerships, foundations, government partnerships, and individual donations.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America makes it easy and rewarding for individuals, groups and businesses to get involved and make a difference. These methods include volunteering to mentor a child in the community or school setting, making a financial donation, and starting a workplace mentoring program.
“The workplace mentoring program connects junior high school and high school students with caring employees, with whom they typically meet as a group a few times a month after school,” commented Michael Eckerman. “During these sessions, students learn valuable skills such as teamwork, business etiquette, career searching, money management, and more. It is an outstanding opportunity for businesses to give back to their community, and for young people to build relationships and create a foundation for lifelong success.”
Parents who wish to enroll their children in Big Brothers Big Sisters of America programs can reach out to their local agency in person, by phone, by email, or by filling out a brief form on the organization’s website.
In many parts of the country, there is a waiting list due to an excess number of enrolled children, and a shortage of mentors who are willing to volunteer their time. Individuals believe that volunteering is difficult and time consuming. However, while it’s definitely a commitment that nobody should take lightly, it’s incredibly satisfying and energizing. Indeed, the only regret that many Big Brothers Big Sisters of America mentors have is that they didn’t start sooner. Ultimately, going to bed at night knowing that you’ve positively impacted a child’s life, and the lives of his or her family members, is highly rewarding.
Read more articles by Mike Eckerman on medium.com.