The year 2020 has brought many challenges, from political rancor, to COVID-19, and renewed efforts to end systemic racism. Such challenges can be especially difficult for Washtenaw County's young people. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County has pushed on in helping youngsters find their way. On this week's "Washtenaw United," the organization's executive director, Jen Spitler, discusses the program and its operations in a most unusual year with WEMU's David Fair.
WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area. And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services. It is a community voice. It is 'Washtenaw United.'
ABOUT JENNIFER SPITLER:
Jennifer Spitler is a Licensed Social Worker in the State of Michigan – attended EMU for both of her degrees. She’s been with BBBS for 18 years, believing that there’s no better way to affect change in the world, than to support a young person’s growth.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, UWWC invested $17,500 in BBBS which allowed them to help meet the basic needs of families with youth served through BBBS and ensure they have the supports needed to continue learning at home.
Providing Washtenaw County youth with a supportive, caring, and nurturing mentor is fundamental in their development to become a responsible, socially competent, and caring adult. The friendship and support provided by the mentor are necessary to help the child reach their potential as they navigate through life’s challenges. BBBS mentors are friends, confidants, and role models that help our youth expand their opportunities and embrace new experiences - affording social capital.
BBBS-WC contributed over 15,000 mentoring hours last year, increasing kids feeling socially accepted, expectations to go to college, and negative attitudes towards risky behaviors. However, there still exists a considerable inequity of kids in need of positive adult mentoring relationships to support and defend their potential.
From 2014-2016, BBBS was awarded an annual grant totaling just under $65k for their community and school mentoring program through the Washtenaw Coordinated Funders, of which UWWC is a partner.
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