Marc Cuniberti: A little help makes a big difference | TheUnion.com

Marc Cuniberti: A little help makes a big difference

Marc Cuniberti
Columnist

Big Brothers-Big Sisters is a nationwide organization that matches children who for one reason or another might benefit from being paired with a mentor. The mentors are called "Bigs" and are older adults who have pledged their time and effort to helping these children (called "Littles") by providing companionship and guidance facilitated by spending a certain amount of time each month with them for one on one personal interaction.

It is estimated there are nine million children who might benefit from such a relationship.

Statistics reveal the need:

46 percent of those in the program versus those not were less likely to use illegal drugs

27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol prematurely

52 percent less likely to skip school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class

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33 percent less likely to physical assault another person

Other benefits from participating in the program and hanging out with a Big include more self-confidence and better personal relationships with family members.

These figures are derived from a 1995 study by Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization.

Changing lives

Whether put at risk from single headed households, parent incarceration, abuse or other factors detrimental to their development, these children have a better chance of making better choices by having someone to "roll" their life challenges and questions off of.

It is clear these one on one relationships where Littles are matched with suitable bigs can make a big difference in the lives and futures of these children.

With safety as an utmost concern when matching adults with children, the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is carefully administered and held to the highest of standards. The program strives for matches that are not only safe and well suited to each child's needs, but also harmonious, highly beneficial and structured for long term viability.

They maintain a central office in Truckee and an office here in western Nevada County.

The Big Brothers/Sisters program is funded by local support through grants, general contributions, corporate sponsorship and fundraisers. There are two events on the near horizon.

Bowl for Kids Sakes will take place on March 17 at Prosperity Lanes in Grass Valley and the Gourmet Gravel Nevada City 2018 Bike ride happens on Saturday, May 12. Information on both of these events can be found at their website at bigsofnc.org.

The Big Brothers/Sisters program is a viable and valuable organization which is helping solidify our future by helping our youth gain greater access to positive role models which they otherwise might be lacking.

The relationships not only help our youth mature in healthier ways but the relationships themselves can be rewarding beyond expectation.

I speak from experience. In 1993 I became a Big Brother to a potentially troubled teen who was 16 years of age at the time. We still keep in touch today and have every year since.

This year my "little" turned 40 years old and my "little brother" and I are forever bonded as family. He was a gift to me then and still is to this very day.

I recently decided to further the experience and have once again joined the program to be matched with yet another little and I couldn't be more thrilled to once again begin such a rewarding experience.

Marc Cuniberti is columnist for The Union and an Investment Advisor Representative through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. He can be contacted at MKB Financial Services 164 Maple St. #1, Auburn, 530-823-2792. His website is http://www.moneymanagementradio.com.