Volunteer Engagement

Twitter Post (1)Volunteers are the backbone at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest. They volunteer their time and experience to offer consistent and caring relationships with at-risk youth in the Middlesex and Central Mass communities. Because volunteers are so important it is essential that our engagement and appreciation efforts don’t fall through the cracks. Here are three of our efforts:

#1 Continued Training

Our volunteers are required to attend volunteer trainings. They are offered throughout the year in order to keep mentors current on issues relating to child abuse & neglect and issues their communities may be facing.

These trainings are geared to empower our volunteer mentors, and also to offer professional development opportunities through networking and strengthening intervention skills. This helps create a sense of community and belonging that keep our volunteer mentors engaged.

#2 They’re connected to the communities their Littles live in

“I keep returning as a Big because I learn from my Little Brother just as much as he learns from me,” says Gaetano Scuderi, volunteer mentor from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. “I also have a lot of friends there and we share experiences with each other.”

#3 Offering mentorship when there may be a lack

Our volunteer mentors give their time and experiences because they genuinely want to give back to their community in some way. They want a space to pay-it-forward because they had an influential mentor in their lives.

“Once a week, I enter this bubble where the rest of the world falls away. My Little and I share an hour of each other’s company. We play games, talk about how his week went, and in general just hang out together.” says Allen Supynuk, volunteer mentor. “The biggest thing I do is to be there for my Little Brother. Give without thought of receiving and you will get more than you ever though possible.”

How do you keep up with your volunteer efforts? What keeps you motivated? For more information on how to be a Big, check out: http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962345/k.E123/Volunteer_to_start_something.htm

Wise Words from a Volunteer Mentor, Allen Supynuk

Wise Words from a Volunteer Mentor, Allen Supynuk

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest we are blessed to have inspiring supporters who volunteer with us as mentors and help us to achieve our mission of changing children’s lives for the better, forever.

Allen Supynuk was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and grew up on the Canadian Prairies, near Edmonton, Alberta. As an adult he moved to Manhattan for work, eventually finding himself here in the Greater Boston Area. Allen is the father of three grown children, a husband, and a self-described computer nerd, Toastmaster, board game enthusiast and science fiction reader. One of his favorite things about living in New England is being able to walk his dog in the forests.

Giving back to his community is important to Allen. He helps with fundraising efforts for the WBUR radio station, he and his wife take in friends of his twenty-something children when they need temporary housing, and Allen is a dedicated member of the Toastmasters nonprofit working to help people become better speakers and leaders. “One of my Toastmasters clubs is in a local Women’s prison – it is some of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had – these magnificent women have the most incredible stories. There are people asking for help with teaching young people about speaking and leading,” says Allen. Allen also volunteers once a week with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest as a mentor in our corporate mentoring program.

“Once a week I enter this bubble where the rest of the world falls away,” says Allen.  “The time we spend together is having a lasting effect on me and – I hope – on him, too.” 

Allen Supynuk and Matthew

Volunteer Big, Allen, and LIttle Brother, Matthew

Allen volunteers with BBBS CM/MW because “it is a magical thing that protects you from the elements. You give without the thought of receiving and you will get more than you ever thought possible.” Allen’s goal is to be there for his Little. He helps his Little focus on what’s important, building relationship through games, weekly conversations and spending time together. Allen’s favorite part about having a Little are those spontaneous acts of love, like when his Little ran up and gave him a big hug after not seeing him all summer. This kind of act inspires Allen and reminds him why being a mentor is so worthwhile. Allen continues to grow and evolve as a person through his volunteering opportunities, especially his experiences as a volunteer mentor.

For more information on how to become a volunteer mentor with BBBS CM/MW, check out: http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962345/k.E123/Volunteer_to_start_something.htm

“Relationships are these rare beautiful pearls that live on in our memories forever.” —Allen Supynuk, BBBS CM/MW Volunteer Mentor

Making SLIME! A STEM activity.

Making SLIME!A Stem Activity.

Big Brothers Big Sisters, at its core, is about developing long lasting relationships that give children the tools they need to be successful in life. Jessica Haggett, BBBS CM/MW’s STEM Institute and Corporate Programs Director, knows that with the STEM Institute mentors can help give children the tools they need to be successful in science, technology, engineering and math too.

JessicaHaggett headshot

Jessica Haggett, STEM Institute and Corporate Programs Director

“No child is bad at science,” Jessica says, “It’s just logical thinking.”

This week, Jessica was in space with corporate mentors and their mentees at Girls, Inc. building something crazy with simple supplies you can find in most kitchens. Who knew you could do science with things you already have in your house? Jessica hopes to help dispel the myth that science is difficult or requires fancy laboratories.  Everyone can do science in their everyday lives.

At Girls, Inc. mentors and mentees set up their laboratory. Jessica went over safety guidelines like wearing gloves and goggles, how to do chemistry testing, the importance being careful about measuring ingredients, and lab techniques for experimentation and testing hypotheses.

Slime mentee

Mentee and slime

“I absolutely loved it!” said a Little named Liz. “This is so cool!”

Even though many of the matches felt nervous going into the activity, they left the activity feeling smart, happy and curious—and they had some cool slime to take home too! Mentee Betsy said she would try another STEM activity. The STEM Institute’s approach is to inspire this kind of curiosity.  Mentors and mentees need opportunities to connect with STEM and encourage children to see science as an important part of their future.  BBBS CM/MW is using the mentoring model to offer a safe space for matches to come learn STEM on their own terms.

“They’ll keep coming back because we will break barriers and help people understand that science is within everyone’s reach,” says Jessica.

Interested in participating in our upcoming STEM activity with Jessica
Contact your Match Support Specialist for more information.
December 13th: Code for a Day, 2-4p

New Mentor Spotlight: Colin Brown

BBBS CM/MW is excited to be starting a new program in Southbridge with volunteer mentors from Nichols College.  We have worked hard over the last year to raise funds and get this program up and running.  Colin is a new mentor who will be volunteering at the YMCA in Southbridge this fall.


Colin realized he was passionate about volunteering when he was 15 helping around the office at a local ministry in Marco Island, Florida. “I realized I could make a difference by giving back to the community,” said Colin. Within a few years, he became a group leader at the same ministry and played an active role in creating and providing lessons for kids.

Colin has served as an ambassador for his ministry and supported the staff by visiting with kids so they would not feel alone. Colin also created a space where kids could be open and express their feeling to peers and other staff members. “I liked seeing kids break out of their shell and feel comfortable around everyone,” Colin says. He has helped out with many volunteer projects, including handing out food to people in poverty.  At the end of his high school career, Colin had already clocked in over 300 hours of community service. When asked his favorite part of volunteering, Colin says, “I love the feeling of giving back and it’s always been for the greater good. Even the impacts are rewarding, regardless of how small they are.”

Colin now attends Nichols College as a student athlete studying marketing and it appears his passion for volunteering is not going away anytime soon. He will continue his service to the community by volunteering for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest at our newest college program with Nichols College. Colin is excited to be matched with a Little at the Southbridge YMCA, and he hopes he will be able to be a consistent, responsible, and positive influence in his Little’s life.  Colin has a great attitude and he knows how worthwhile it is to volunteer and work towards the greater good.

“It is rewarding to know that I made a difference in people’s lives,” Colin says. “The time I put into doing something for the community means that someone was there to provide help for those in need.”

Rodman Ride Spotlight: Melanie Perreault-LeBoeuf

Melanie Perreault-LeBoeuf is the Vice President of Programs and Outreach at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest. Melanie has been part of BBBS CM/MW for over 15 years. IMG_5800Melanie began as an intern in January of 2000 and was hired full-time later that year in May. Throughout her tenure, Melanie has held positions as a Case Manager, Director of Programs, and her current role, Vice President of Programs and Outreach.  During this time Melanie has been a Big to four Littles.  Her current Little is named Roxana.  Roxana is an important part of Melanie’s life. Melanie recently married in beautiful Maine, and during her wedding planning process she involved her Little. “I even trusted her to do my hair on the day of the wedding. She did an amazing job!” Melanie says.

Melanie rides for the Rodman Ride for Kids each year because she believes in what she does. She knows BBBS CM/MW is an important resource for the children in our community, and being a mentor herself, she wants to help raise funds to support her match.  BBBS CM/MW offers children so many opportunities they would not have without a mentor. For Melanie there is nothing more telling of what BBBS CM/MW gives to children than the amazement on their faces when they step on a college campus for the first time.  Many children live just blocks away from several colleges and have no idea what those colleges are about or that they could attend one someday.

Melanie’s favorite thing about working with Littles at BBBS CM/MW is seeing the look on her own Littles’ face when she does something new for the first time. Melanie likes to Jet Ski with her husband and one day brought her Little along. “When she first got on and road on my Jet Ski, her face lit up with excitement,” Melanie says.

Today, Melanie continues to keep all of her Littles, past and present, in her heart and mind. She believes all of BBBS CM/MW’s Big Brothers and Sisters would agree their Little is on their mind, through and through. “It’s not always easy to find time to handle some of the kid’s family situations, but it’s always worth it in the end.”

Click, Melanie Perreault

“Donate what you can, if everyone who reads this donates even $10, we will be so much closer to reaching our goal.”—Melanie Perreault-LeBoeuf, Vice President of Programs and Outreach, BBBS CM/MW

Rodman Ride Spotlight: Garry Weiner

Garry Weiner

Garry Weiner, right, at the Rodman Ride for Kids, 2014.

Garry Weiner is the First Vice President, Financial Advisor for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. He has been a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest for over 15 years.  Garry started as a Big Brother where he saw the important work that BBBS CM/MW was doing first hand. He then decided to get more involved by joining the Board of Directors.  Garry eventually became the Board Chair and, after finishing his term, is now an active member of the Board of Corporators. Garry is passionate about mentoring and understands the amount of effort required to raise the funds each year to run a nonprofit like BBBS CM/MW. Garry is overjoyed to help with The Rodman Ride for Kids because he knows it is our biggest fundraiser of the year.  His support helps provide financial stability for the agency.

From his experience serving on the Board, Garry knows that the Board is the governing arm of the agency and helps ensure he agency remains on track with fulfilling its mission.  Garry has enjoyed working in all areas of BBBS CM/MW, sitting on the Board, being a Big, governing the agency, and helping to raise funds.  He appreciates being a part of the important task of positively impacting the lives of at-risk youth. His own son and daughter, grandson, elderly father, and Little, are always on his mind when doing this work for the community.

Garry’s Little now lives in Savannah, Georgia. He recently had an opportunity to spend some time with him, his wife and beautiful daughter. Garry is incredibly proud of what his Little has accomplished in his young life, even after having experienced a difficult childhood. Garry hopes that mentoring his Little through the tough times in his life helped him to choose the positive direction his life has taken into adulthood.

If you’d like to help support Garry, or the BBBS CM/MW team, click here: https://shar.es/1vRpkR

106% of your donation will go straight to help match children with great mentors, like Garry, in Central Mass/Metrowest. Without this fundraiser, and donations from community members like you, our programs would not be possible.

“Being a Big is one of the most important parts of BBBS CM/MW.”—Garry Weiner, First Vice President, Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney

5 Things I Learned While Volunteering at my Local Organic Farm

Originally posted on Organic Matters:

On a hot, humid, blue-sky Thursday afternoon, we made our way to
Sherborn, a small town outside Boston, MA. We were looking forward to volunteering at Silverwood Organic Farm, a historic local farmland. My partner in this adventure was my 10-year-old “little sister” who I mentor through Big Brother Big Sister. We were ready to experience an afternoon in the life of an organic farmer and take some organic lessons home with us.

View original 545 more words

Rodman Ride Spotlight: Jackie Lyon

Jackie LyonJackie Lyon is the Marketing and Special Events Manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest. Jackie has been a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest for five years.  She began as a Big Sister during her time as an undergraduate at Clark University and last year Jackie began working for BBBS CM/MW as an Interview and Match/Support Specialist.  Now Jackie has stepped up to the challenge of managing our Rodman Ride efforts.

Jackie truly believes in the Mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Big are amazing at providing one-on-one mentoring for children in need in our communities. She understands that each child is unique and pairs well with a consistent, responsible, positive, and unique adult. What Jackie also likes about Big Brothers Big Sisters is that the staff works specifically to help nurture the life of the match to ensure both the mentor and mentee are supported and that the match lasts.

Jackie’s favorite thing about working with Littles at BBBS CM/MW is seeing the light and joy flood children’s face when they meet their Big for the first time. She also enjoys when Littles look forward to meeting with their Big every week. As an Interview and Match Support Specialist she saw the sense of confidence, excitement and belonging strengthen as the match grew.

Today, Jackie is continuing her work to help make matches through the Rodman Ride. Jackie is fundraising for BBBS CM/MW as a virtual rider for the Rodman Ride because she believes in supporting and providing for children who face adversity. Support Jackie in her virtual ride as she completes 25 good deeds, in honor of the 25 years the Rodman Ride has been supporting children in Massachusetts. You can see her good deeds at #RodmandRide25GoodDeeds.

If you’d like to donate to Jackie, or the BBBS CM/MW team, click here: https://shar.es/1vRpkR  106% of your donation will go straight to help match children with great mentors in Central Mass/Metrowest.

“It’s really interesting to see how matches transform over time, especially becoming comfortable with each other in just a few months.”—Jackie Lyon, Marketing and Special Events Manager, BBBS CM/MW

How to Become a Great Mentor

Match, Jess and Sandra.

Match, Jess and Sandra.

Many of us have had at least one mentor in our lives.  Mentors provide consistent, positive interactions to foster growth and help us become successful adults.  This week at BBBS CM/MW we are focusing on connecting kids to success – now and in the future.  A great mentoring relationship can be the key to success for a child.  At BBBS CM/MW we support out mentors to help them while they are learning how to be a Big.  The most important thing is to just be a good friend to your Little, but here are ten more steps to help mentors become great:

1) Get to know your Little.  Listen to what’s important to them.

2) Establish trust.  Bigs, you’ve taken a step to become your Little’s role model.

3) Be consistent.

4) Choose activities that you both enjoy and enrich the bond between you.

5) Don’t set out to impose changes on your Little.  Show them you care about them how they are.

6) Join with other matches at agency events.

7) Communicate.  It is important to maintain regular communication with your Little, your Little’s parent/guardian, and your Match Support Specialist.

Match, Jeff and Jacob, at the Sharks game.

Match, Jeff and Jacob.

8) Go below the surface and share your own success and failures with your Little.

9) Set Goals.  Share the same goal of working towards a long lasting relationship.

10) Be Patient.  It’s OK to face challenges in your new relationship. Work on ways to balance expectations and reality.

What are your suggestions on how to be a great mentor?  Share them with us in the comments.  We would enjoy your feedback.