By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For many at-risk children in the Philadelphia area, a mentor can play a huge role, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania are doing their part to help.
Sometimes, just being there for a child can make a world of difference.
“I really like when we make spaghetti for dinner,” says Siani Sang, when talking about some of the things she does with her Big Sister Shanae Stallworth.
It’s the little things that count.
“Days when I’m not really doing nothing, she comes along randomly,” Sang says. “Sometime recently, I was in the house, I wasn’t doing anything, and then we went walking, I think, on the trail. It was pretty fun; it was nice.”
Siani and Shanae meet up at least a couple times each month. They’ve been a match for more than a year and a half, and the relationship has been a blessing for both.
“The most rewarding thing is to see her excel,” Stallworth says. “Whether in sports or academics, her grades are doing really well. Just seeing the reward she is getting from being enthusiastic.”
The organization’s new CEO, Marcus Allen, is hoping more volunteers will get involved.
“One of the things we believe is that every kid needs someone to feel crazy about them,” says Allen. “Right now across the country — and especially here in Philadelphia — we do lack African-American men. We have a lot of African-American boys on the waiting list, and it has been somewhat of a challenge to find men [to mentor them].”
Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania hopes to fill that void, with a series of events across the region to recruit more Bigs.
And Shanae and Siani have some advice for anyone thinking about signing up.
“Just do it,” Stallworth says. “Somebody needs your encouragement; somebody needs your ears to listen to and also to give advice.”
Sang adds, “You begin, not to change really, but to grow out of your shyness. You accomplish things. If you’re lacking in school you have that person to tell you ‘you can do it.’”