When a new year begins, many of us make resolutions. We generally focus on small steps to improve our lives. Maybe we plan to work out a bit more, lose some weight or spend more time with family.

But what if our New Year’s resolution would not only improve our own life, but also improve the life of a local child? Becoming a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters gives you the opportunity to ignite the power and promise of local youth, while changing your life as well.

In 2021, 99.2% of our volunteers stated that their Little (mentee) changed their life for the better. How does this happen? Big Brothers Big Sisters’ formula for matching volunteers with youth works. Proof of this is not only in the percentage above, but also in the years of service here in southern Minnesota. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota has been serving local youth for the past 50 years and still going strong.

Mentors have always played a large role in my life. Even now, I have mentors I look to for advice in leadership and family.

I grew up in a single parent household like so many children, but I had an advantage over some other kids like me. I had the most wonderful mentors in my life. Not only did they care about me but they made me feel important; like I really mattered to them and the world. How amazing is that; making someone feel like they matter.

How did they do this? They asked questions about my day. They included me in everyday tasks that they were already doing. They didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. they just involved me in what they were already doing. To be included feels really good.

Think back to when you were a kid. Who showed you how to throw a ball, asked you about your day, involved you in what they were doing? Who was your mentor? Mentors are so important to our youth, and it makes me wonder what our community would be like if every child felt like they mattered.

In 2021, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota supported 811 mentoring matches. This is a record for our agency. Even with the increase of matches, we still have over 250 youth waiting to be matched with a mentor.

They are waiting for someone to hang out with, maybe throw a ball, make cookies, or go to the park with. Quite simply, they just want someone to spend time with. Mentoring is that simple. By spending one hour a week or a couple hours month with a child, you can change their life and it will most likely change yours as well.

So how about that New Year’s resolution? Are you making one that will change only your life, or one that can change your life, a child’s life, and a whole community? Happy New Year!

Michelle Redman is the executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota, which serves Dodge, Rice, Steele and Waseca counties.

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