The Brightside: Big Brothers Big Sisters
Nicole Bennett is a program specialist at the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Eastern Shore.
But this woman with a big heart got her start as a “Little.”
“My dad was in and out of the picture. So she just felt like I needed somebody else. I had to grow up really fast to help take care of my younger brother, so she thought someone who could come in and just let me be a kid.”, says Bennett.
It was that relationship that inspired the work Bennett does now in her professional and personal life.
She says she started out a mentor in high school and kept going.
“So I’ve actually mentored three “Littles”. The first one, I was in high school. I went to high school to mentor a little girl. It was an interesting experience. I’m not sure I was 100 percent ready for it.”
It’s her way of paying it forward.
She is just one of hundreds of people on Delmarva working to help thousands.
“We have different programs. We do mentoring as well as enrichment programs. We offer groups for different children. We also do activities every quarter.”, says executive director, Jessica Mimms.
The agency has been around for 114 years but recently changed its logo, which is a big deal according to Mimms.
“We wanted to re-energize the mentoring movement and emphasize the urgency that children need mentors.”
Mimms says the eastern shore chapter has about 200 volunteers who dedicate at least two days each month to spending time with their “Little”.
However, the need for more people to sign on to become “Bigs continues to grow.
Mimms says, “We actually service the entire Eastern Shore. so the need is great especially in this time when social media is so important in everyone’s lives. There’s so many children who really need to build their social skills.”
Families can apply for their kids as young as six to become a “Little”.
Those kids can stay on until they turn 18.
A program match-maker works to figure out what kind of “Big” would be the best fit for every child.
Mimms says their mentors can come from all types of backgrounds.
“We have retirees come to us that want to mentor because they have the time and their children are grown and their grandchildren may be grown.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters shows it doesn’t take much to make a big difference in someone’s life.