When Greg Lowe was a boy growing up in Lynn, he was enrolled in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program by his single mother. The mentor he was matched with became a stable and inspiring force in his life. Lowe credits his Big Brother with helping him get through college and even had his mentor serve as the best man in his wedding.
Decades later, Lowe, now a 58-year-old Ipswich resident, decided he was ready to offer that same support and dedication to a young person like he once was, so he again enrolled with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts, this time as a volunteer mentor. Lowe was matched with his Little Brother Trevor in 2018. The duo bonds playing basketball, exploring nature, and he recently took Trevor to climb his first mountain.
“I wasn’t exposed to people like my Big Brother where I came from in terms of his job, his college degree, his connections,” says Lowe. “My Big opened my eyes to possibilities for my future and I now have friends and an education I may not have had otherwise. I want to give that same experience to Trevor.”
In recognition of National Mentoring Month this January, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts is celebrating Lowe and other volunteers by sharing their stories.
With research and proven outcomes at its core, the organization creates matches adult volunteers called “Bigs” with children (known as “Littles”) based on shared interests, geography and personality. The organization serves as a bridge between communities and community partners, helping to address larger social issues, such as race and education gaps.
A national study of 950 youth from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies showed that positive relationships between Littles and their Bigs have a direct and measurable impact on children’s lives. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ matches consistently spend more time together, and continue as a match for longer periods, than those in other mentoring programs. Results also showed Bigs help Littles learn right from wrong, make better life choices, do better in school and advance to the next grade level.
Currently, the agency has a growing list of children waiting to be matched, and more than two times as many boys are waiting for mentors as girls. To combat this issue, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts president and CEO Mark O’Donnell is calling on men, like Lowe, to step up as mentors.
“The number of boys on the waiting list to receive Big Brothers is currently in the hundreds,” says O’Donnell, who walks his talk as a former two-time Big Brother. “Over 75 percent of our Littles come from single-parent households, a majority of which only have a mother or female guardian looking for a consistent and caring male role model in their children’s lives. We need male volunteers, especially men of color and those who speak Spanish, to step up for our children. The more male-identifying Bigs we have, the more families we can serve.”
Anyone can become a Big as the agency welcomes youth and adults of all races, ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities. Volunteers must be 18 years old or older and be able to commit a few hours a few times a month for at least a year and have a passion for positively impacting a young person’s life.
For more information, to register your children or to become a volunteer, visit: www.emassbigs.org.