Program Makes A Big Difference In Lives Of Local Youth

New City, NY (June 25, 2018) – Rockland County Legislator Nancy Low-Hogan led this year’s Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Mentee Graduation Ceremony, honoring the participants and highlighting the value of the non-profit organization.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County makes a difference in the lives of so many people,” Legislator Low-Hogan said. “The adult mentors give not only of their time, but of their hearts to try to make a difference in the life of a child. The children who participate succeed because they embrace the support and opportunity that has come their way through this program. I’m thrilled to recognize both ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ for their accomplishments.”

Among those joining Legislator Low-Hogan for the ceremony were BBBS’ Executive Director Gillian Ballard and Board of Directors Chairman Lee Roberts.

This year’s honorees included Little Brother Jason Bridgewater and Big Brother Darnell Gilet; Little Brother John Henry Ramirez and Big Sister Kathleen McKenna; Little Brother Marcus McNeill and Big Brother Julian Febres; Little Brother Kyle Pelcak and Big Brother Thomas Stephens & Big Sister Denise Stephens.

Jason Bridgewater said he was fortunate enough to have two Big Brothers in his life.

“I’ve had a wonderful time being part of this program,” Jason said. “Growing up with a single mom, I never really had that male perspective in my life. But the two Big Brothers that I had, they definitely mean a lot to me. Going forward, it’s something that I won’t forget and I just want to say thank you for everything this program has done for me.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a one-to-one relationship program that allows children – the “Littles” – to build trusting friendships, engage in meaningful conversations and activities, and to realize their self-worth and potential – all with the help of their adult mentors – the “Bigs,” who act as positive role models.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County pairs a volunteer mentor with a youth between the ages of 6 and 18 who is facing adversity. They share simple low-cost or no-cost outings allowing them time to get to know each other and to converse.

John Henry Ramirez and his Big Sister Kathleen McKenna spent five years together.

“When I first came to this program, I didn’t know what to expect, what I was going to gain from this, what the end goal was,” John Henry said. “But five years later, I can see that I have a friend. More than a mentor, a friend. Someone who I can trust. Someone who has been there and has been listening.”

Youth who participate in the mentoring program do better in school and in their relationships with family and friends, and are less likely to use illegal drugs or alcohol, according to a study by Public/Private Ventures, a Philadelphia-based national research organization.

Mentors are there for their mentees – there to listen, to understand, to give good advice, and they often become an extended member of the family.

Marcus McNeill and his Big Brother Julian Febres were together for seven years.

“Our relationship grew and grew over the years,” Marcus said. “This program helped me to be more social and it helped me to be more open about people’s opinions and things like that. I really enjoyed this program.”

Kyle Pelcak and the husband-and-wife team of Big Brother Thomas Stephens & Big Sister Denise Stephens were together since Kyle was in 6th grade.

“A rather darker time,” Kyle said. “Thomas became the father that I didn’t have and although I didn’t know I needed her, I needed a second mother and that became Denise. We took off right away, socializing. We went off to sporting events, having dinner, but even at certain times, they were just there for me to talk to. They were my rock and I’m so happy that I was able to meet them. I’m thankful to my mom for getting me into the program. I’m thankful to them for volunteering.”

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