OCE Newsletter: last updated 01/14/2014
This year, the Office of Community Engagement launched a new partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay and the Gloucester Housing Authority to create a campus-based mentoring program.
The idea for the new partnership began last year when Gordon student Jon Trapp ’13 reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters seeking an opportunity to mentor a child. Trapp then introduced BBBS to the Office of Community Engagement and discussions began about connecting BBBS’ need for more mentors in Gloucester with the OCE’s hopes to provide compelling on-campus service opportunities for students. A group of A. J. Gordon Scholars who already were independently thinking of developing a mentoring program soon formed a core leadership team for the program.
In the spring, the team recruited potential mentors and were overwhelmed at Gordon students' enthusiasm. The Big Brothers Big Sisters team worked diligently over the summer to screen applicants and find students who would be willing to make at least a two-year commitment to relationship with their little brother or sister.
This intensive process led to 17 high-quality matches between Gloucester kids and Gordon students. According to Thomas Bentley, BBBS community engagement coordinator, “Before working with Gordon’s OCE, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay was struggling to provide Big Brother and Big Sister mentors for kids in Gloucester. We are amazed and grateful to have 17 matches our first year at Gordon and are excited to see the program grow next year.”
The first semester of the program has provided many opportunities for fun and budding friendships. Every other Saturday, the kids come to campus for a group activity like a scavenger hunt or rock wall climbing, and one-on-one mentoring time with their “big.” In between visits, Gordon students call their “littles” to check in with them and their families.
“Being a part of BBBS has been such a wonderful experience for me,” big sister Molly Ekholm ’16 says. “I have loved spending time with my little, just talking with her and getting to know her better. One of my favorite moments from last semester was the Christmas party. Her entire family was there and we had so much fun together, and it was great getting to know her family better. It was great looking around the room and seeing all of the families together; I could see how great this community is. I love the community I am now a part of, just being surrounded by people who just want to have a positive impact on these kids and are always willing to talk to you and help you. When I joined BBBS I expected to build a good relationship with my little but I never expected the community that would come with it, and that has been one of the best parts of being a part of BBBS.”
Both the OCE and BBBS look forward to another great semester of growing relationships and hope to create even more matches in the 2014–15 academic year.