Mentoring is a movement with a role for everyone

By Paul Palmer

CEO and president, Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County

January is Mentoring Month. Spearheaded by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national partner. Mentoring for Big Brothers Big Sisters means using a trusted tested process of matching children in a safe and positive way that demonstrates proven outcomes. The children in our program are more likely to succeed in school, solve problems without violent behavior, and avoid drugs and other illegal activities.

With growing economic pressure on families and communities across San Diego, the need for all citizens to join the movement is urgent. Children are facing risks that lead to soaring dropout rates, violence and crime; what we achieve - how we improve the odds that children will succeed - is extremely relevant.

With that in mind, Big Brothers Big Sisters, in recognition of National Mentoring Month, is introducing a way to recognize citizens who support the movement to help our children grow up in America, despite whether their role is mentoring or helping children beat the odds in some other way. A shinning example of this is a recent donation of $50,000 made by Harry Singh, a local philanthropist, to support Big Brothers Big Sisters Operation Bigs - a program that provides mentors to children of deployed parents.

A mom recently thanked me, because her daughter was matched with a high-ranking female Marine who helped her daughter make a great turnaround in her behavior and her willingness to open up about her feelings during her father’s deployment.

This Mentoring Month, we want the nation to know that the movement works not only because of the “Bigs,” but also because of communities that support them. We are asking Americans to nominate one or more outstanding individuals for Big Brothers Big Sisters’ first Big Citizen of the Year Award. This honor recognizes that helping children make good choices takes family members, teachers, religious leaders, coaches, neighbors and so many others who want to help change the way our children grow up in America.

Nominating your favorite mentor is easy. Go to

and give a local unsung hero an opportunity to be recognized nationally. Invite your friends and family to vote for him/her. The winner will receive recognition at Big Brothers Big Sisters’ National Conference and receive a private “Big Celebrity” dinner with professional athletes and actors, philanthropists and business executives who are also members of our movement.