When Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest (BBBS of CM/MW) was contacted in the Fall of 2013 by Avidia Bank, the agency was immediately excited about the opportunity to partner with them. Avidia Bank, a well-established, mutual community bank with offices all over Central Massachusetts and Metrowest, wanted to get involved but wasn’t quite sure how. After meeting with BBBS of CM/MW Chief Executive Officer Jeff Chin to hear more about the agency’s mission and various mentoring programs, Avidia Bank and BBBS of CM/MW began the new year with a partnership of six volunteer staff members from the bank to be matched with local at-risk children who would be their mentees (“Littles”).
Now several months in to this new partnership, Program Supervisor Amber Haskett continues to be blown away by Avidia Bank’s devotion to the partnership. “These volunteers not only show up each week with a snack for the kids, but they also bring something for them to do with their Littles,” she remarks. “We do not ask our volunteers to do this, but they do it anyway. …These volunteers have gone above and beyond…!”
Perhaps Avidia Bank’s dedication originates from their belief in the power of mentoring and their own personal connections to the cause.
The work of BBBS of CM/MW struck a chord with Tammy Robidas, Marketing Coordinator for Avidia Bank. She describes her own turbulent childhood…one all too familiar for many of our Littles:
“I enjoy being a Big Sister because as a child I did not have sisters and also no mother. This left me with a bit of feeling insecure and extremely shy as a child. …It was difficult at times.” So Tammy thought, “What better way to deal with it than to be a role model for a Little Sister. …I believe a positive role model in a child’s young life is extremely important for a good base to become a successful adult.”
Over the course of the partnership, Avidia Bank volunteers have consistently provided their Littles with fun, engaging activities. They’ve held a holiday party that included Santa Claus, desserts, and gifts, and they meet weekly with the Littles to play board games, do arts and crafts, share lunch, help with homework, and “chat about [their] lives.” Tina Ramsey, Commercial Relationship Officer, even mentions going to the movies and attending church with her Little. “I enjoy being a Big and look forward to spending time with my little. I feel mentoring is important because a mentor is a role model for a child and…I’ve learned that I can be a positive influence on my Little,” she says.
Speaking of positive influence, BBBS of CM/MW prides itself on the mutual positive effect it has on both Bigs and Littles alike, and the volunteers at Avidia Bank have experienced this first hand. Chief Financial Officer Margaret Sullivan says, “I’ve discovered that I like being involved in the molding of a child, i.e. being a friend and helping them discover themselves. …My involvement with BBBS of CM/MW has made me more appreciative of what I had, what I have and what is yet to come.” Sullivan also notices changes in her Little, who she says is now more social with others and more extroverted.
The partnership between Avidia Bank and BBBS of CM/MW exemplifies our mission which is “to enhance the quality of life of children through professionally supported mentoring relationships with responsible and caring volunteers.” We cannot wait to watch these matches continue to grow and develop, and hope that other community corporations may choose to follow in the footsteps of Avidia Bank!