Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Louisiana launched a campaign Monday to recruit 60 adults over the next 60 days to help youth in the area who are currently waiting to be linked up with a mentor.
Erin Davison, BBBS Southwest Louisiana executive director, said this year's campaign is focused on recruiting African-American men, along with other male minority groups, for its Community Mentoring Program. According to the organization's website, 61 percent of the youth currently waiting for a mentor are male, with 49 percent being minorities. Meanwhile, 45 percent of mentors waiting to be matched with a young person are male, with only 6 of them being minorities.
"Matching them with an adult male role model is the best because they have that positive example," Davison said. "If we pair a young man of color with an adult man of color, it gives a positive example and a nurturing relationship. We're telling the community, ‘Hey, we need you. Come be part of a movement of social change and positive behavior and mentoring.' "
The significant changes caused by COVID-19 have raised new challenges for young people, Davison said.
"Families or other organizations are identifying children who need a positive role model," she said. "There are mental health challenges or behavioral challenges with being stuck at home. A majority of them don't have access to technology or home school to keep up with their studies."
Eighty percent of families served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of SWLA are considered ALICE, or Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, Davison said. Existing financial challenges were made worse earlier this year with shutdowns related to stopping the spread of COVID-19.
"The (youth) are dealing with anxiety or uncertainty, especially if their families are not working," she said.
The organization holds recruitment campaigns once or twice a year to help the local community understand the need for mentors of area youth. It exceeded last year's goal to recruit 30 mentors in 30 days, Davison said. This year's recruitment goal was doubled because more children are being enrolled in the program, she said.
The Community Mentoring Program has mentors meet with a young person at least twice a month for community activities over a 12-month period. Because of COVID-19, the meetings can be virtual or in person, depending on community safety guidelines, Davison said.
Information on becoming a mentor, along with enrollment steps, are available at bbbsswla.org. The process includes an in-person interview, reference check and multi-layered background check. Accepted mentors are matched with a little brother or sister that shares similar interests.
The organization's School-Based Mentoring Program remains on hold, pending action by school officials, Davison said.
Those interested in working with the campaign may call Alex Stinchcomb, marketing and development manager, at 478-5437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.