“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
The largest mentoring program at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest is the Worcester Area College Mentoring Program (WACMP). It serves over 700 kids in Worcester County and recruits its mentors from six area colleges: Holy Cross, WPI, Clark University, Becker College, Nichols College and Assumption College. This program began 15 years ago with one sports team and one college, and has grown to be a central part of our strategy for reaching the children who need us most in Worcester County.
15 years ago, John Price was a student athlete at Holy Cross playing lacrosse. John understood the importance of giving back to his community and volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass/Metrowest as a Big. He told his teammates about the amazing experience and tried to get them to join. Unfortunately, John had a tragic accident and was taken away from his family and friends while he was far too young. After Price’s funeral, the lacrosse team knew they needed to do something to continue John’s memory and honor his aspiration to make the community better. They banded together to mentor youth in memory of him. One young man’s desire to give back and help youth succeed had led to the expansion of this program to reach over 6,000 children in 15 years.
Similar to John Price’s vision to support young people by being their own personal champion, “I trust mentors to do the best job they can offer for these kids,” said Christina Fleury, Worcester Area College Mentoring Program Coordinator. A College of the Holy Cross Alum, Christina Fleury comes to BBBS CM/MW because she found a passion for serving her community. During her time at Holy Cross, Christina’s courses and overall college experience encouraged her to be responsible and passionate about the communities around her. “The Worcester Area College Mentoring Program at Big Brothers Big Sisters is still growing and expanding,” said Christina. “The agency opened up a new mentoring program in Dudley at Nichols College in August 2015.” Prior to her employment at BBBS CM/MW she was an educator in Texas through the Teach for America program and moved back to Worcester with her husband, also a Holy Cross Alum turned educator for their alma mater.
The six area colleges support Big Brothers Big Sisters by giving the agency excellent mentors to serve at-risk youth. They allow program staff space for recruitment, to run mentoring programs, and support with transporting mentees and mentors to and from programs. This is especially notable because it allows mentees and mentors more opportunity and accessibility to meet each other every week. BBBS CM/MW’s WACMP can be found at Elm Park, Wawecus, Woodland, Canterbury, Belmont, Flagg, and Goddard Schools, the Plumley Village and Great Brook Valley Boys and Girls Clubs, Girl’s Inc. and local YMCA’s.
The value of WACMP is the varying and different programs that accommodate all different walks of youth coming from all different kinds of needs. “All of the WACMP programs are great and unique in their own ways,” said Christina. “They have different merits and different neighborhoods they attend to.”
“I’m always impressed by the mentors and the varying programs,” says Christina. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the Bigs and Littles grow together at the different sites and show how they all can be a great resource for each other.”
BBBS CM/MW’s Worcester Area College Mentoring Program will continue to provide an opportunity for young people to grow with their mentor and converse about different education expectations that may cross their minds during the tenure of their match.
For more information on how to become a volunteer mentor with BBBS CM/MW, check out: http://bbbscm.org/faqs.