Creating hope for the future with friendship, connection, empowerment

Six years ago, Tyreek Saunders was nine years old, and a student at Jackson Street Elementary School in Northampton, when his father was sentenced to prison. Knowing her son needed a male role model, Shantina Saunders reached out to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ty was matched with his “Big,” Shawn Robinson of Hatfield, and the two began to bond by bowling, go-carting and just hanging out.

One man sitting, one man standing, both smilingNow, six years later, Ty and Shawn are deeply committed to one another, in a relationship based on trust, sharing and meaningful conversation. They are part of each other’s families—which now include Shawn’s wife and children—and they expect their involvement will last their lifetimes. This connection has forever changed the way Ty sees himself and his future.

“Spending that quality time with a mentor reinforces a child’s sense of self-worth. That’s powerful,” says Renee Moss, Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, noting that having a mentor improves a child’s relationships with peers and other adults in the child’s world. “It offers long-term security. It allows them to engage and improve their sense of a future and a career.”

Ty is enrolled for the fall at Smith Vocational and Agriculture High School, where he’ll be laying the groundwork for a career and building the foundation for big dreams of his own.

Since 1975, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County has been providing one-to-one mentoring relationships to local children in need of positive adult influence and friendship. Supervised by a staff of professional case managers, volunteers spend time weekly with a child for at least one year developing a positive, trusting, and enriching friendship. A special person, such as a “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” can often be the one factor that can change the destiny of a child’s life, providing the resources and encouragement to become a productive and healthy adult.

To donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters, follow the link provided and click on Add to My Donation Basket, or use the code 585255 on your paper pledge form.