At BDS, our mission it to promote safety, livability and economic vitality. I've been hearing a lot on the news this week from the Portland Police Bureau about the increase in gang violence in our community. I keep hearing reporters asking them the same question, "What can the community do?" I felt prompted to share an idea that makes me feel like I'm making a BIG and LITTLE difference.
I've always been a big sister (I have five brothers and sisters). So when Pamela Weatherspoon of Big Brothers/Big Sisters Northwest came to present at BDS a year ago about volunteer opportunities with her organization, I thought....."there's always room for one more sister!" Big Brothers/Big Sisters matches adults (Bigs) with kids (Littles) in the community in need friendship and role modeling.
What has transpired over the past year, has changed my life more than I could have ever imagined. It's not like I have a shortage of kids in my life with 6-year old Elizabeth and 6-month old Ethan to raise, but I just knew I could do more. And, the BBBS school-based program is easy to fit into a busy schedule.
When I first met with my match coordinator at BBBS, I learned that they had a good match ratio with Big and Little sisters, but have a waiting list of over 1,000 boys in our community who need Big Brothers - role models to help positively shape their early years - and it can take two years or more to find a match.
I meet with my Little once a week for an hour at lunch at Roseway Heights Elementary. She is in 5th grade this year, and we hit it off right away. Each week, lunchtime flies by as we talk about life, school, family and ultimately end up playing Guess Who, designing puppets or reading a book.
One of the things I'm most looking forward to is watching my Little perform in her school play in March, where she will play the role of the king's son in Macbeth. She has invited me to come watch her performance since her Mom won't be able to attend - an invitation that I consider to be a real honor.
If you have an hour a week to make a difference in the life of a child, I can think of no easier way to help combat neglect, addiction, gang involvement and violence in our community. Rather than just shaking your head next time you listen to the news....call BBBS at (503) 249-4859 to find out how you can have fun and become part of the solution for our kids!
I especially want to thank BDS Director, Paul Scarlett, for his support of BDS employees participating in volunteer activities in our community. His encouragement enables me to visit my Little during my lunch once a week and support this great organization.