Today’s guest blogger is Rick Belbutoski, Manager of Volunteer Outreach and Engagement. He shares with us why he loves his job and the long-lasting impact mentors have on all of our lives.
I used to stand on the sea wall in front of my grandparents’ lake cottage and throw rocks into the lake. More than hearing the tiny splash that accompanies the small thump sound the rock makes when it hits the water, I loved watching the ripples race away from where the rock made impact. I liked to see how far the ripples would crawl, and the way they’d impact the leafs, twigs, or whatever else they came across. Matching a child facing adversity with a consistent caring adult, has a similar positive effect.
This year’s “100 Men in 50 Days” Campaign is wrapping up, and there’s so much to celebrate. We’ve had 133 men apply to be a Big Brother, Big Couple, or Big Friend since the campaign kick off on April 21. We do an annual campaign to focus on male recruitment because there are far more boys looking for a Big than men who volunteer. But, the last six weeks have helped to make a big difference in the life of boys in Central Indiana. This year’s recruiting campaign was tiring, but the greatest reward for me comes with the hope of boys’ lives changed, the positive ripples to come.
The Indianapolis Indians served as our presenting sponsor again this year, and we can’t say thank you enough for all they do to help build awareness for the need for more male volunteers. The Indians’ involvement has helped lead to more media coverage, and helped many things come together to assist our efforts to find the right Big for children on the waitlist.
Early in the campaign, after a story on the local news aired about the need for more male mentors, I got a phone call from an office manager asking if I can come make a presentation at this office the next day! Unfortunately, my calendar was booked for the next day, but the day after that, eight of his co-workers applied. This story of how one thing led to another eventually leads to changed lives.
The Big’s life will be impacted in unexpected ways, and of course the Little’s life is changed, and that’s where the ripple starts. The Little’s classmates, future neighbors, and even future family benefit from having a person who is more confident and has a broad range of experiences. Everyone the Little will interact with benefits from being around someone who knows what it looks like to be a thoughtful listener and a consistent presence in the life of another person.
For me, having the support of mentors has been critical to my continued growth. Whether it was family friends, professors, or people I met through church, there has always been someone outside of my family that was setting an example of how to live, how to prioritize, and in some cases how to think about life and who I am. Everyone deserves to have those types of people in their life.
Every year, our agency makes extensive plans to match more children with Bigs. Plans are supported by goals. Goals are met by developing and implementing strategies, but at the end of the day, my work is all about connecting people. Bigs are willing to meet kids right where they are. The first meeting between a Big and a Little literally happens in the Little’s home. But if you’re looking for a good first match activity, think about throwing stones in a lake or a pond. The ripple effects of the relationship to come are often change the lives for the better, forever.