Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once declared that “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”
On the third Monday in January, millions come together to honor Dr. King by participating in the MLK Day of Service, which has become known as “a day on, not a day off.” This holiday is intended to inspire others to give back to the community through volunteerism.
Giving back is a fundamental part of the High School Bigs program, which enables youth volunteers to mentor local elementary students on a weekly basis.
Here, three longtime High School Bigs describe how the program has ignited their charitable spirit and encouraged them to make a difference.
“I had volunteered for a few different places before but never with kids. It was a totally new experience for me. I definitely would like to continue giving back to kids in some way. They are dying to have someone who can relate to them on a personal level and this program lets us do that. I always try to make my Little smile and have a great time during every session. I want him to remember each time we meet. Whenever I can do that, it gives me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.” —Big Brother Abraham, mentor to Arturo
“My time as a mentor in the High School Bigs program has taught me the importance of responsibility and commitment. I’m here because I want to leave a strong impression on my Little. I want her to understand why I’m so passionate about giving back to my community now. I hope she can see what I’m doing and feel inspired to volunteer when she becomes my age. I’m grateful for everything my community has done for me, and being a High School Big is my way of paying it forward.”—Big Sister Erika, mentor to Alexa
“Even though I had worked with kids before, the program showed me how impactful one-to-one mentoring can be. In other places, you may be helping children but this is totally different. You get to help them through challenges and understand their personality. You can actually witness the impact you are making. I’ve seen my Little become much more outgoing thanks to our time together. All those hours you put in can sometimes feel overwhelming but the growth you see in your Little makes it all so worth it. I would love to continue helping children on a one-to-one level.” —Big Sister Jaylene, mentor to Gisselle
About High School Bigs
In this one-to-one peer mentoring program, teens in grades 9 through 12 serve as mentors to an elementary school student. Meetings take place once a week at the child’s school. The program is facilitated by a Big Brothers Big Sisters team member and has a curriculum designed specifically for peer-to-peer mentoring. Topics include academic achievement, bullying, self esteem and relationship building blocks.
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