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Bigbrother Big Sister

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The main two types of mentoring are natural mentoring and planned mentoring. Natural mentoring occurs through friendship, collegiality, teaching, coaching, and counseling that is formed from un-constructed planning (Newman, 1990, p. 41). In contrast, planned mentoring occurs through structured programs in which mentors and participants are selected and matched through formal processes (Newman, 1990, p. 43). There are many different ways to describe mentoring, but they all boil down to one thing: a positive, supportive relationship between a young person and a caring adult.

The most compelling data that we have shows the change in our American family structure. Day there are alarming number of children with mental disorders and children being raised in single parent homes has increased. In both areas it is shown that we need more preventive care (Petersmeyer 1989). Other statistics are equally troubling: each day in the United States, 3,600 students drop out of high school, and 2,700 unwed teenage girls get pregnant (Petersmeyer 1989). As a society we have a responsibility to our youth to help them become strong adults. My grandmother was always telling me that it takes more then the immediate family to raise a child well, if a child is to be rear well it takes a whole community contribution.

This paper is a comparison of two agencies, Big Brother Big Sisters of America and Compeer. Big Brother Big Sister of America focuses on youth that are from single parent homes. Compeer focus is on children with a mental disorder. The reason why I have chosen these agencies are to show how the success of both and how each is similar to each other but also how each agency focuses on a different area. I do believe that it shows as a member of society and being a mentor we can make a difference in our youth today and our future leaders of tomorrow.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America was started over ninety years ago. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) agencies have provided supportive, one-to-one relationships between adult volunteers and youth living in single-parent homes. Today, BBBSA provides about 75,000 young people with one-to-one supports (Public /Private Ventures, 1995a). In a presentation of the BBBS services, Public/Private Ventures (1995a:4) stated the following: Volunteer screening is a must and is a very strict procedure is to ensures the protection of participating youth. Youth who want to take part are also screened which includes a written application and oral interviews with both the parent and the child. In the BBBSA's there are preconditions before a youth can take part in the program, the main focus is on children that come from a single-parent household. Once the selection process is done the mentor then moves on to a training program that teaches the developmental stages of youth, communication skills, and relationship building tips to name a few. This is to help volunteers in interacting with the child that they are match with, who is often of different racial or economic backgrounds (para.12). Once the training is completed then the matching process begins, which includes placing volunteers and youth according to gender, and child, parent and volunteer preferences. Once a match is made then the match couple is supervised, which includes biweekly phone contact with the volunteer and parent during the first month, monthly contact afterwards, and quarterly contact with the child (BBBSA, 2002).

Recent research by Public/Private Ventures (par. 12; 1995b) stated there is evidence that Big Brother Big Sisters (BBBS) programs have many positive and socially important effects on the lives of participating youth (BBBSA, 2002). National studies are showing that participation in BBBS programs reduce illegal drug and alcohol use, improved academic performance, behavior and attitudes, and improved peer and family relationships (P/PV, 1995a. par. 28). According to the Public/Private Ventures (par. 21), the youth that take part in a mentor program showed the following: 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs; 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol; 52 percent less likely to skip school; 37 percent less likely to skip a class; more confident of their performance in schoolwork ;one-third less likely to hit someone, and getting along better with their peers and families. Since BBBS has had such a positive impact on youth, which are mainly from single-family homes, can the same concept be used with youth that suffer from different kind of mental disorder? This was a question that could have been thought of by the by the founders of Compeer.

"Compeer" means a companion who is also a peer or equal (Bordenkircher, p. 2). Loneliness, failure, fear and loss of self-esteem are universal experiences of those who suffer from mental illnesses (Bordenkircher, p. 6). A caring friend can help to restore some joy and hope to a life that is often empty of both. Compeer program was started in 1973 in Rochester, New York. In 1982, the National Institute of Mental Health chose Compeer as successful program. They went on to fund the development of this program throughout the nation (Bordenkircher, pp. 12-19). In 2003 Compeer is an organization with over 100 affiliates in the United States, Canada, and Australia. New York State leads the nation with 25 Compeer programs. In 2002, 4892 Compeer volunteers provided friendship, advocacy and support to 5935 children and adults diagnosed with mental illnesses. These volunteers gave 186,662 hours of support during 2002(Bordenkircher, pp. 22-34). Compeer provides a fun flexible volunteer opportunity that fits into almost anyone lifestyle. Volunteers, set their own schedules, they can meet with their friend on a regular basis at mutually convenient times to share activities that they enjoy such as movies, sports, shopping or coffee and a chat. Many of the activities are free and sponsored by the Compeer Program (Bordenkircher, pp. 33-38). I do believe the results are a gift of friendship, and shows the results of personal growth and the opportunity to help another.

The screening process through compeer provides an opportunity to select adults who are most likely to be successful as mentors by looking for individuals who already understand that a mentor's primary role is to develop a friendship with a youth with a mental disorder (Bordenkircher, pp. 41-45). Orientation and pre-match training provide important opportunities to ensure that youth and their mentors share a common understanding and develop realistic expectations of what



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