“During National Mentoring Month, we honor all those who continuously strive to provide young people with the resources and support they need and deserve, and we recommit to building a society in which all mentors and mentees can thrive in mutual learning relationships.” -President Barack Obama
At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest we are proud of the impact we are making with our corporate site-based mentoring programs. Site-based corporate programs give Littles a unique opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with working professionals in exciting corporations like TJX, Boston Scientific and EMC. They also allow corporate partners the chance to give back by allowing their employees to spend time mentoring at-risk youth who can really benefit from the supportive, one-to-one mentoring relationships BBBS CM/ MW specializes in creating, and it gives the Littles the added benefits of experiencing new career and future options too.
Our programs focus on building self-confidence and social acceptance for the youth in our programs. Improving academic performance is also a big goal for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Each week at the EMC lunchtime program, Bigs and Littles meet and work on homework assignments. Bigs also get a chance to speak with their Little’s teacher and other school officials regarding their academic progress. “We believe this program has a great impact on a young person’s academics because the setting is academic-centric,” says Dawne Dragonetti, Corporate & Site-Based Interview Match Support Specialist. The young people from David Mindess Elementary spend one hour with their EMC mentors each week. “It is especially inspiring because the mentors at EMC have similar upbringings as their littles,” said Dawne. “Mentors know kids are resilient and they’re going to feed off that energy to empower them to participate in greater things.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters has another corporate program in Framingham at TJX. This program is particularly impactful and inspiring for young people because they’re mentored in a corporate building. Each week buses transport students from Cameron Middle School to the TJX corporate building. The young people are immersed in an environment of professionals, both young and advanced. This kind of environment allows Bigs and Littles to begin the conversation on what a career would look like for them. “We had a mentee whose goal was to be a cleaning lady when she was older because that’s all she knew,” said Dawne, “And then over time, the mentee realized there are other possibilities for her future.” This is important to note because the corporate program encourages kids to interact with adults they wouldn’t otherwise meet and see a world that is new for them. Similar to Big Brothers Big Sister’s other site-based and community-based programs, it allows for both the Big and Little to inspire each other and be the best self they can be.
“Some of the mentees we encounter talk about possibly working at TJX in the future,” said Dawne. “This is exciting because the education expectation conversation is beginning to take root in their minds.”
Dawne Dragonetti came to BBBS CM/MW almost two years ago as a retired teacher who taught special education for grades three through five. Dawne, who is always full of energy and excitement, was not retired for long. She volunteered with the agency and was quickly hired on to become part of the team. Dawne has been at the forefront of creating partnerships and seeking funding to support our site-based programs in Metrowest and she has been instrumental in the creation of a new program this year with Framingham State and Massachusetts Bay Community College where college students mentor children at Fuller Middle School.
“I’m always impressed by the mentors and mentees,” says Dawne. “It’s inspiring to see the pairs grow. With that, I’m always looking for new ways to integrate new opportunities for kids to reach their goals or goals that were explored with their Bigs.”
BBBS CM/MW’s corporate programs will continue to provide an opportunity for young people to envision themselves in a career that may have never crossed their minds prior to meeting their Big.
For more information on how to become a volunteer mentor with BBBS CM/MW, check out: http://bbbscm.org/faqs.