Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Heart of Georgia (BBBS), the local affiliate of the preeminent one-to-one youth mentoring organization in the United States, announced new partnerships and program launches as part of its 70th anniversary and the kickoff of a national BBBS mentor recruitment campaign, “It Takes Little to Be Big.”
At the press conference, BBBS announced the launch of the Bibb County Sports Buddies program, a national BBBS program for mentors that are interested in participating and watching sports activities. This fun sports-oriented program exposes mentees, also known as Littles, to a variety of sports activities while promoting healthy habits. The 2023-24 Season kicks off this fall with basketball, tennis, and hiking activities led by professionals and student athletes from all four Macon-Bibb higher education institutions. With only a 6-month commitment for mentors in this program, it allows flexibility for busy adults or those who aren’t sure if mentoring is right for them.
“Most people feel they don’t have time to be a mentor,” said BBBS President & CEO Betsy Fitzgerald. “We’re here to tell them, that’s ok. Because the truth is, even the smallest commitment can make a huge impact on a kid’s life and future.”
Guest speaker Randy Stephens, one of the most influential leaders in Southern tennis over the last three decades and who Macon-Bibb’s newest tennis center is named after, shared the significance of Macon-Bibb recreation department’s partnership with BBBS. “I believe the game of tennis has the potential to change lives, just like the mentors of Big Brothers Big Sisters.” He shared that following the tennis event in October, the Randy Stephens Tennis Center will continue fostering interest and participation by offering complimentary tennis lessons for all BBBS matches.
The event also featured Macon-Bibb District 2 Commissioner Paul Bronson, who presented a proclamation celebrating the 70th anniversary milestone of the agency serving the Macon-Bibb community. The proclamation featured BBBS’ commitment in providing Macon-Bibb’s young people with the highest quality volunteer mentoring programs that embrace diversity, are inclusive, and respect the cultures of all children, youth and families. It also recognized that mentorship can lead to a reduction in poverty and unemployment, create safe schools and neighborhoods, and renew optimism for growth.
“The partnership between our Recreation Department and Big Brothers Big Sisters will increase participation in underserved communities and bring our city closer together both on and off the court,” says District 2 Commissioner Paul Bronson. “We are lucky to have such an impactful program like BBBS to assist in safety, education, and mentorship desired from our youth.”
Adults 18 and older and encouraged to sign up to attend one or all of the upcoming fall Sports Buddies events by calling 478-745-3984 or emailing email@example.com. The first event, “Big Ballers Unite”, is Saturday, September 16 and features Central Georgia Technical College’s basketball team and Coach Gerald Fitch, former Miami Heat and University of Kentucky player.
The remaining fall season includes tennis on October 14 at the Randy Stephens Tennis Center, hiking at the Wesleyan Arboretum on November 11, and the Jingle Mingle annual holiday party. With the exception of the Jingle Mingle, all events take place on Saturday mornings. BBBS staff will follow up with attendees and help interested mentors with their enrollment process, which includes an application, interview, and background and reference checks. No previous sport or mentor experience or specific education is required to become a mentor.
“We are at a critical need for mentors, particularly men,” said Fitzgerald. “One game can be a game changer. You can give a youth the confidence to chase their goals.”
BBBS received a $50,000 Macon Violence Prevention (MVP) grant to expand mentoring services throughout Macon-Bibb County with new programs and by supporting other organizations wanting to start a program.
“If we can get our children the support and guidance they need early in life, we will have a long-lasting impact on their future and our community’s future,” says Mayor Lester Miller. “The work amazing organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters are doing in our neighborhoods, in our schools, and in our homes is truly the most important thing being done today.”
About Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Heart of Georgia
Serving Central Georgia for 70 years, BBBS Heart of Georgia has become a trusted service provider for the region. As an organization whose mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth, BBBS continues to do everything they can to move this critical work forward and be there for the most vulnerable across our communities. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ evidence-based approach is designed to create positive youth outcomes, including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and improved relationships.
BBBS recruits, screens, and trains mentors for school-age children in 15 Central Georgia Counties. Mentors are matched with children and relationships are supported by the agency with positive outcomes for the Bigs (mentors) and Littles (youth). BBBS mentors, staff, and parents are defenders of potential of at-risk youth with one-to-one mentoring in the community and in schools. The agency is intentional in serving children at risk of truancy or failure, focused on driving educational achievement, improving early reading skills, and increasing high school graduation rates. It is also a proven program that helps youth avoid negative interaction with law enforcement while improving their social and personal skills.
Visit www.bbbsheartga.org for more information, sign up your child, or apply to be a mentor.
About the Macon Violence Prevention Program
Macon Violence Prevention is an evidence-based, multifaceted program created to address public safety in Macon-Bibb County. Supported and funded by the consolidated government, MVP is a community-wide effort that brings together elected officials, community leaders and representatives from more than 20 agencies, organizations and departments.
The MVP program operates under the guidance of the MVP Strategic Plan, which was created in June of 2021 by community stakeholders and violent crime experts. The plan combines data and research with community feedback to identify and implement proven solutions that reduce violent crime and strengthen the community over time.
In June, Mayor Miller joined with the Community Foundation of Central Georgia to announce the second year of grants. More than $860,000 has been awarded to 31 local organizations to continue or start programs focused on long term violent crime prevention and aligned with the goals of the community-generated MVP Strategic Plan.
“From literacy programs to family counseling to mental health services to activities that teach problem solving skills, I am confident these MVP programs will help create a stronger, safer community,” said Mayor Miller. “I want to thank everyone for stepping forward to address the issues we all face.”
“Preventing violent crime in our community is a long-term effort, and we fully expect to build on the progress we’ve begun to see,” adds Kathryn Dennis. “This is the work our entire community needs to rally behind. Together we can make a difference. Step up, and get involved with one of these organizations. As President Kennedy believed, ‘One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.’”