We must give back to the youth in our community
KIKO VAZQUEZOver the past couple of weeks I have felt the incessant need to reach out to our grief-stricken community in the wake of such tragedy.
Published: June 29, 2012
Published: June 29, 2012
As the Community Resource Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, I find myself interviewing young men desperately seeking the companionship of someone to guide them through life. Their sincere desire is for someone they can spend time with who will help set them out on the right path.
As dedicated citizens of this community we can fill a void in young lives. We have the opportunity to start something by giving the youth of our community something they may not have the ability to get elsewhere. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to change the past, but we all have the opportunity to help mold the future.
A recently released Gallup poll did a measure of hope, engagement and well-being of students in grades fifth through 12th nationwide. Of the students surveyed, those who believed they would graduate were more likely to have answered as such, due to the fact that they had caring parents or another supportive adult in their life. This poll supports the independent research conducted by Big Brothers Big Sisters with regard to our mentorship programs. Our results allude to the fact that youth who have a mentoring relationship are more likely than their peers to be successful students, harbor close ties with their families and resist the negative temptations of violence, crime and drugs. Mentoring matches are even more successful on a long-term basis yielding stronger results in conjunction with the monitoring and support of the parties involved.
We see first-hand the impact our mentors have on the youth they are engaged with in our community at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast. We provide professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships with measurable results in hopes of forming long-lasting relationships that give our youth hope for their future. This service would not be possible without the help of dedicated volunteers who devote their time to have a positive impact on the youth of our county.
While we cannot change the recent events that have shocked Highlands County, we can change the future for our young men and women. We currently have over 50 boys that have joined our program in hopes of being matched with someone to call their "Big Brother." I encourage the citizens of our community to make a difference and volunteer to see first-hand the impact one person can have on the life of a youth. Start mentoring, and start changing lives. Join me and become a Big Brother or Big Sister and change a life for the better, forever!
Kiko Vazquez is the community resource director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast.