Walking the Walk: Our Mission in Action
The team at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas does more than “talk the talk” regarding youth mentoring. We also “walk the walk”.
All BBBS staff members bring educational and professional expertise to their work creating and supporting successful mentoring matches. Staff members’ degrees often focus on fields such as Social Work, Education, Human Resources and Child Development, and our team has experience working with children and families in a variety of settings.
For many BBBS staff members, however, working to help all children succeed in life is more than just a job: as current or former Big Brothers and Big Sisters themselves, youth mentoring is also an important part of many staff members’ personal lives and allows them to bring valuable insight into both the logistics, and the impacts, of mentoring relationships.
As a long-time staff member responsible for interviewing and matching Bigs and Littles, a current Big Sister, and the parent of a child enrolled as a BBBS Little Brother, Enrollment Supervisor Ellen Harsch provides an exceptional example of the team’s commitment to, and lived experience of, the agency’s mission.
“My experience as a Big Sister has helped me bring an authenticity to my relationships with potential Bigs,” says Ellen. “I understand the questions and feelings they have.”
In addition, her role guiding families through the enrollment process has helped her appreciate how important it is for Bigs to build strong partnerships with their Little’s parents. Experiencing the power of mentoring first-hand with her own Little Sister Perla also informed her decision to enroll her son Anthony as a Little Brother.
“I always knew I wanted my son to have as many people as possible in his life who love and support him, who are there for him,” she says. “Anthony’s Big Brother is part of ‘Team Anthony.’ He’s another adult who is there to cheer him on, to teach him new things, and to be in his corner.”
Nancy Reiter, Vice President of Finance and Operations, has also remained committed to the value of mentoring many years after her personal experience as a Big Sister.
“In my professional life, I still see the value of offering guidance to others and providing opportunities for growth,” she says.
For Joe Strychalski, Vice President of Programs, being a Big has helped him fully appreciate the significance of the emotional connections that are formed between mentor/mentee.
“It’s not until a match connects and trust is established that the real impact and the core of mentoring can begin,” he says. “Understanding this has made me more thoughtful about of all of our agency’s processes– from providing customer service, to matching and supporting Bigs and Littles, to offering support and guidance that meets kids where they are.”
For Ellen, Nancy, Joe, and many others here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, youth mentoring is more than just an abstract concept, it is part of their own lived experience. By “walking the walk”, our team members demonstrate their sincere belief that mentors can change kid’s lives for the better, forever. We’re thankful for this commitment, and we’re stronger because of it.