Guest column: Gina Taylor ... Long-standing studies show long-term, one-to-one, staff-supported volunteer mentoring works

As we mark National Mentoring Month, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast is honoring all who make up their successful community — parents, volunteers, staffers and donors who work together to make a mentoring match strong, enduring and successful.

Behind every successful mentoring match is a team of selfless, dedicated believers.

Of course, there's the volunteer who makes time in his schedule to commit to letting a child know how special he is. But there's the parent or guardian, most often a single mom or grandmother who courageously seeks support to give her child every opportunity to succeed.

Then there's the staff person, a professional who uses facts from interviews, references, experience and intuition to match the right child and family with the right volunteer. And behind every relationship are the donors, whose financial resources make it possible for our mentors, mentees and parents to get the ongoing support, guidance and resources that help them establish and maintain the kind of dialogue, communication and understanding that are behind Big Brothers Big Sisters' successful, long-term, one-to-one mentoring relationships.

This month, we honor our volunteers for their service. We thank our parents and guardians for their trust and commitment to their children. We pay tribute to our staff, and we show gratitude to our donors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast serves nearly 1,400 children who are enrolled in our programs in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, Highlands, Hardee, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Hendry and Glades counties. They are youth who because of our programs — because of our mentoring community — are more likely than their peers to beat the odds. We hold ourselves accountable for helping children achieve in school; avoid risky and delinquent behaviors; and have higher self-esteem and aspirations.

National Mentoring Month is a time when our office is at its busiest due to increases in inquiries from parents. We also hear from lots of potential volunteers. But to provide the staffing needed to carefully match mentors with mentees, we also need to hear from donors. Indeed, it takes a mentoring community to make a match a successful one.

Learn more at www.bbbssun.org.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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