Out of the 168 hours that make up each week, one solitary stretch of sixty minutes is brief, practically nonexistent. One hour in the span of seven days is just inconsequential, right?
Wrong—for a child with a difficult home life, a lacking self-esteem, or a struggle with shyness, that one hour can redefine the entire future. At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Juniata Valley, the benefit of one hour each week has noticeably inspiring outcomes. As a United Way funded organization, this program seeks to impact local kids through the positive influence of mentorship. According to Judy Fitzgerald, BBBS Program Coordinator, the effects are tangible; the “Littles” improve in a variety of areas. They get along better with peers and family, do better in school, and avoid at-risk behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use. With the influence of trained volunteers and layered case management, children flourish under this type of relationship that is unique to BBBS. Fitzgerald recognizes its effectiveness—“that’s the benefit, they’re making better decisions.”
The mentorship opportunities with Big Brother Big Sister are flexible, allowing volunteers to work around personal schedules. There are two paths in the program, onsite after-school visits or community-based activities. For Fitzgerald, a pivotal evidence of BBBS’s success is the amount of mentored “Littles” who return as “Bigs.” She affirms that rewards are seen in the future, stating, “for kids to come full circle and want to help someone—it’s huge.” This impact is not limited to individual lives, because ultimately this program strengthens the health of our whole community.
The United Way of Mifflin-Juniata recognizes the importance of one hour per week for the sake of our children. As the 2014 campaign continues, we see that the value of one hour—or one dollar—should never be underestimated.