Record Number of Volunteers Seek to be Big Brothers, Big Sisters; President Bush's Support of Mentoring in State of the Union Address Believed to Have Helped Drive Increase.
Vredenburgh said that three recent events had contributed to the increase. They are 1) the launch by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the organization's first ever national marketing campaign, 2) the added exposure given to mentoring during the month of January, National Mentoring Month, and 3) the president's State of the Union message and subsequent announcements that support of mentoring would be an initiative in the new budget.
"The president's words that ` ... one mentor, one person can change the life of child ... I urge you to be that person ... ' have unquestionably resonated with the American public," said Vredenburgh. "We believe Americans are motivated to volunteer and have responded to the need for many more Big Brothers and Big Sisters," she added.
Vredenburgh said the large increase in volunteer inquiries would help support the organization's vigorous growth plan to attract one million Big Brothers and Big Sisters to the organization by the year 2010. Vredenburgh said that the growth plan was adopted to reach out to the large number of youth at risk in this country. Since its adoption BBBS has been growing at more than 20 percent each year. She added that the growth plan took into account, not only the need, but the documented positive impact on youth in having a Big Brother or Big Sister.
A study, conducted by Public/Private Ventures, a national research firm based in Philadelphia, found that youth who have a Big Brother or Sister developed higher levels of self-confidence, had improved relationships with adults and peers and developed more positive attitudes towards school. They are also 46% less likely to use illegal drugs and 53% less likely to skip school.
To help spur the enrollment of new mentors, the organization embarked in September on the first national marketing campaign in its 98-year history. Television and radio spots developed by Lowe New York and endorsed by The Advertising Council departed from the norm. "So many ads about children's volunteerism fall into the SSS trap -- sad, serious and sober," said Dean Hacohen, Executive Creative Director at Lowe. "We wanted the campaign to be as much fun as the experience of being a `Big." The four television and two radio spots are now running across the country as are Web banners created and donated by MG&G Advertising in New York.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest, largest and most effective organization in the country offering one-to-one youth mentoring. In 2002 it served 260,000 children, ages 5 through high school, in 5000 communities across the country. It is considered the gold standard in the youth mentoring field and will celebrate its centennial in 2004 in New York City, where it was founded. National headquarters are in Philadelphia.
To inquire about being a Big Brother or Big Sister or learn how else you can support the organization, contact the web site address, http://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org/ or call the toll free number, 888 412 BIGS.
CONTACT: Noreen Shanfelter, Director, Media and Public Relations of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, +1-215-665-7778 or email@example.com
Web site: http://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org/