Published in the October 22, 2015 edition
WAKEFIELD — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay (BBBSMB) and Wakefield Adult Mentors (WAM) announced a partnership to serve existing WAM mentor/mentee matches as WAM founder Bob Eldridge formally retires from his day-to-day role operating WAM.
WAM was founded in the winter of 2001 through the vision and guidance of Bob Eldridge and his wife Merry. Impressed with the work of Dr. Susan Weinberger, founder of the first one-on-one student mentoring program in the United States, Bob was inspired to start a similar school based mentoring program to help Wakefield’s students. He solicited the help of Dr. Weinberger as well as a group of local organizations all of whom were interested in helping Wakefield’s youth reach their highest potential. WAM was founded in 2001 as an all-volunteer run program with about 15 volunteers, mentoring one-on-one middle school students. Since then, the program has grown to over 60 students meeting once a week with their mentors in all Wakefield schools (K-12), including the Northeast Vocational School.
“Bob and Merry have created a unique community-focused mentoring program that has become a vital resource for children and youth in Wakefield,” said Rich Greif, long-time Wakefield resident and Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. “We are honored to help keep their vision and legacy alive by supporting current matches and working with the community to help more Wakefield youth get served with caring adult mentors.”
Current WAM mentor/mentees matches will be offered the opportunity to transition formally to Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Scholarship Foundation will continue to offer a financial incentive provided to graduating students who have participated in the WAM program for at least three years and who are committed to pursuing a post-secondary education/training. Additionally, Big Brothers Big Sisters will seek to enroll more youth in Wakefield through referrals from the schools, parents and community agencies, while also working to recruit new mentors from across the community.
For more than 60 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay has worked to ensure that every child has the support from caring adults that they need for healthy development and success in life. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (”Bigs”) and children (”Littles”), ages 7 through high school graduation, in communities across Massachusetts Bay, serving over 2,100 youth last year. National research has shown that the positive relationships between youth and their Big Brothers and Big Sisters have direct and measurable impact on the children’s’ lives. By participating in our youth mentoring programs, Little Brothers and Little Sisters are more confident in their school work performance; able to get along better with their families; 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs; 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol; and 52 percent less likely to skip school.
For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay visit www.bbbsmb.org.