Nonprofit Group Connects Mentors With Young People
By JANICE RUTHERFORD
When J.R. Harrison of Upland wanted to be a volunteer mentor for a young person in need, he reached out to the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the nation — Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“It was one of those things in the back of my mind that I always thought would be neat to do,” Harrison said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters connects boys and girls — known affectionately as Littles — between the ages of 6 and 18 with adult mentors who are called Bigs. Volunteers commit to spending a couple of hours two times a month with their Little, and they also agree to spend at least a year in the program.
The organization traces its roots back to 1904, when a New York City court clerk set out to find mentors for the youth going through the New York Children’s Court.
The non-profit’s local affiliate, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Inland Empire, interviewed Harrison, explained the mentorship program, and ran a background check on him as is standard procedure for all the group’s volunteers.
“It’s an interesting experience,” Harrison said. “They analyze the person who wants to be a Big and try to match them with the needs and interest of the kids ”
Eventually, Harrison was paired with a 12-year-old boy named Victor.
“It was a little difficult to draw out what excited him,” Harrison said. “He’s a shy kid.”
Harrison told Victor he worked as an airplane mechanic after discovering the boy was interested in cars, and pretty soon the two were chatting away about automobiles and engines.
“It just kind of tied things together and gave us something to talk about,” he said.
He took Victor go-carting on their first outing. Since then, they have visited the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, went to the movies, and watched airplanes land while eating In-N-Out burgers near LAX.
When Victor confided he was having trouble in math class, Harrison gave him some tips, and since then, the boy’s math grade has improved.
Victor has also helped Harrison, who is admittedly a little loquacious, look at life and relationships a little differently.
“I’ve learned to sit back and observe a little more,” he said. “He opens my eyes on how to handle things.”
Learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters by visiting www.iebigs.org.
(San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford represents the 2nd District, which includes part of Fontana. This article originally appeared in the Rutherford Report.)
View Original Publication: Fontana Herald News