The Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wayne and Pike County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is looking for ways to increase their presence in Wayne and Pike counties, but they need your help.




The Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wayne and Pike County chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is looking for ways to increase their presence in Wayne and Pike counties, but they need your help.

For more than a century, the group has contributed to bringing brighter futures to children all over the country through pairing them with adult mentors whose mission is to unlock the child’s ability to succeed and thrive in life.

The chapter serving our region currently has 270 kids — known as “littles” — of all ages matched with “bigs” that have made the commitment to stick with their littles throughout their young lives to help them become well adjusted, productive adults.

As great an impact this may have on the lives of those 270 kids, however, BBBS has many more unpaired littles to serve and is seeking new partnerships in the area to make that happen.

Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters live in single-parent and low-income families. 30 percent of those come from households where a parent is incarcerated.

As the nation’s largest and most successful donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers and children.
By providing a system of ongoing evaluation and support, Big Brothers Big Sisters is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that Littles will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others.

The vast majority of the children mentored by the program come from low-income families. In a rural area like ours travel can be a serious hurdle to getting a child matched up with a mentor, said area program Director Cynthia Beeman at a breakfast organized to solicit support from area schools, businesses and government agencies.

“That’s one reason we’re here now,” Beeman said, “We’re trying to find a location in the area that we could use through an in-kind donation. We need to find one room that we could use part time to do interviews and give people from this area a central place to meet so they don’t have to go all the way to Scranton.”

“Research shows that our mentoring program works,” Beeman said, “The Center For the Study and Prevention of Violence chose BBBS as one of only 11 programs out of more than 200 that actually works. A lot of organizations say they are mentoring, but unlike a lot of other programs, our goal is to build strong foundations and long-term relationships with our littles to help them through adversity. That makes us different.”

Aside from offering safe, secure pairings of thoroughly vetted adult mentors and youths in need of their friendship and support, Beeman explained the program also offers site-based pairings of younger students with older ones in schools.

This, she said, proves a win-win situation almost every time as it pulls older students often without a niche for themselves into helping shape the habits and views of impressionable younger students. This often encourages the older students to re-evaluate their own behaviors and earns them attraction points with potential colleges, while the littles gain skills and advice from someone they look up to in ways they may not do with a parent or other guardian.

“We’ve found that if a high school kid says it to a younger, impressionable child, they will be much more likely to try to live that advice in their own lives. Plus, you can say something 500 times to your own kids and they just don’t hear it, but if their mentor — their friend — says it, it often just clicks right away.”

At the breakfast, both Wayne Highlands Superintendent Greg Frigoletto and Wallenpaupack Assistant Superintendent Joann Hudak expressed interest in participating in the program, which Beeman was sure to explain would not cost the districts anything.

“We’re here to ask people to collaborate,” she said, “Not to pay.”

If you would like to volunteer or offer resources at your disposal to Big Brothers Big Sisters, contact Program Director Cynthia Beeman by e-mail at DirectorBBBS@gmail.com or by phone at
570-347-5616 x3326 or 570-278-4600 x212.