Big Brothers Essay, Research Paper
In 1903 a man by the name of Irvin F. Westiemer encountered a young boy in an alley. This boy was searching for food in a garbage can. This unfortunate sight inspired him to organize an agency, which would be responsible for providing little boys who have no father figure, a male role model. This concept led to the creation of Big Brothers in the early 1900?s. Irvin F. Westiemer is responsible for a non-profit, North American wide, private social service. The theory of introducing a male role model to one of these young boys, who have gone without, is to make a dramatic change in self-esteem, trust and the ability to hold a strong bond between friends. Since established in Canada in 1913, there are now over 170 agencies across Canada. Big Brothers has a reputation for providing quality service to help improve the boys outlook on life and most important, making them ?boys.? Today in Oshawa ? Whitby there are more than 200 boys who have gone without the ?father figure?, because of many reasons, including death and jail. My placement has been an ?eye-opening? experience and has shown just how important a role model can be. Discussions will be given on the outline of the personnel and structure of the agency, funding, my role while beginning my volunteer work at Big Brothers, and the positive and negative aspects of the agency, followed with possible improvements to services.
Big Brothers is a private agency that relies mainly on its volunteers. Without the volunteer?s who supply their time to help make the difference, there would be no ?backbone? to the organization (the Bigs themselves.) Being a private service agency, Big Brothers is accountable to it?s own board of directors and paid staff, incase of any mishaps that might occur, or for implementation of new changes in programs or vital functions in the organization. Each person who volunteers to be a Big Brother is thoroughly screened, so that the child?s best interests are always in mind. A mandatory police clearance, series of interviews, and references are to weed out any possible, future harm to the child. After the screening, the Big Brothers job is to create a solid foundation of trust and friendship. This can be best defined in the agencies ?mission statement?, which states: ?The object of the association is to help the individual boy who is without a regular male influence, to enjoy a one-man/one-boy relationship through a friendship designed to promote the social, physical and moral welfare of the boy.? The Big Brother is to have temporary full-custody of the boy, and to instill morals, and character, by sharing a different perspective of the world from the perspective the Little Brother might already have. Caseworkers are next in the chain of command, and they deal with the screening process and matching the successful candidates with ?Little Brothers?. Caseworkers also deal with any intervention, the overseeing policies, and ensuring they are being followed by the Big Brother. The caseworker is responsible for the interviews and the orientation to the program for the successful candidates. However, the most important job the caseworker has is to keep vigil over the Big Brother?s and make sure that the Little Brother?s are being treated according to the policies outlined in the training manual. It is imperative to ensure that these boys are being treated appropriately. Like any job, caseworkers have to report to an executive director, who oversees the operations of the agency. Once the references are supplied to the casework staff the executive director interviews the candidate, and then depending on the impression of the candidate, his/her file is sent to the Applicant Advisory Committee for approval. The executive director is in contact with the board of directors and is a ?messenger? for both sides. The executive director is educated on what changes the program will have and also he/she informs the board on opinions regarding any of the changes. Possibly a compromise will be made to accommodate the circumstances of why a change cannot be met. The Applicant Advisory Committee?s main purpose is to oversee the applicant screening process. The volunteer board of directors is responsible for providing much needed new programs and services to make the mission statement easier to achieve. They are also responsible for implementing changes in the existing structure and procedures, to make the organization more efficient. Anyone can be a part of this board so long as they are ?community-minded? and are active within that community. The Board of Directors does consult with other boards to share ideas and thoughts of how improvements can be made to existing programs. (See figure 1)
The Big Brothers Association is a non-profit organization, which relies on the support of the immediate public for funding. Most of the funds are derived from the local United Way, and other agencies, and donations. The budget that comes from the local United way accounts for roughly 40% of the agencies annual spending. Other amounts are derived from major fundraising campaigns such as, ?Bowl for Millions? and ?Golf for Kids Sake?, which are sponsored events where proceeds go towards benefiting social programs existing in Big Brothers. These fundraising campaigns are advertised to local businesses by flyers sent. The idea of the campaign is to improve public relations with various media circles. Other forms of media for public awareness include posters and commercials that are widely viewed, and based on the local community. As of yet, bowling and golf are the only two major fundraisers for Oshawa ? Whitby, but soon to expand and appeal to a larger audience.
As a volunteer at the Big Brothers association in Oshawa ? Whitby, my role thus far has been to improve public relations through distributing media, and by creating handbooks for different programs existing in the agency. My role so far is only temporary, to support staff and assisting with office work. I have been involved in sending out newsletters to members of the Big Brother?s society of Oshawa – Whitby, and also through increasing awareness by sending fundraising waivers and information pamphlets to local businesses. These were pertaining to the ?Bowling for Millions? campaign described above. I was responsible for creating an orientation handbook for the Big/bunch group program, which is designed for Big Brothers that already have a Little Brother and Little Brothers that have not yet been matched with a Big Brother. The ratio of the group is 1 Big to 2 Littles. This program is designed to accommodate the increasing amount of little boys who are deprived of a male role model and mentor, while they are waiting to be matched with there very own Big Brother. I was also responsible for creating a handbook for the Little Brothers of the Big/bunch group program. The idea of the handbook is to provide the agency with information regarding everything from the boy?s likes and dislikes to his allergies. A sample question would be ?Superman or Spiderman?? which is supposed to appeal to all ages of the group and make the boy feel more comfortable.
Police officers today, have to deal with children of all ages from day to day. Having great communication skills and knowledge of different stages of cognitive development, does help to confront issues surrounding child welfare. My future involves policing Metropolitan Toronto, and of course, dealing with ?Metro?s finest!? Working with different communities, and learning how to meat certain needs in these difficult times. Also, my placement will help me in the future, learn how to develop a rapport with people of various backgrounds. Children are our future, so we must raise them to become productive contributors to society, and the only way to do this is to understand and interpret them correctly. This theory has been proven to be effective in many ways. When confronting issues children have to deal with, relating yourself to the issue, you increase your chances of getting through to the child, and therefore helping him/her.
With every business, and every relationship, there is always room for improvement. The Big Brothers Association of course could also do with a few modifications relating to procedures. The first change that would make the agency more effective and cost efficient, would be computerizing mandatory references, during the screening process. Currently Big Brothers uses the Canadian Postal Service, which isn?t totally ?fail safe?, and does tend to be quite time consuming. A disappointment for myself was that my references didn?t make it back in time to start and actually finish this service project. I then made the decision to perform office work to attain the 40 mandatory hours. Computerizing would make the matching much quicker and therefore, less Little Brothers would have to wait for a match. Computerizing would also decrease the need for some of the new programs such as Big/bunch group program, and would lower costs of preparing these programs, and with the public awareness need to advertise. Some of the positive aspects of the Big/bunch group program are increased social skills, and an awareness of teamwork. The Safety Awareness Program has had changes made, because of a stigma (an attribute that devalues the social identity of Big Brothers Association) about sexual abuse. The same idea about the Red Cross going through the ?Blood scare.? This new program is better abled to provide quality service.
In conclusion, Big Brothers has helped the individual boy who is without a regular male influence, to enjoy a one-man/one-boy relationship through a friendship designed to promote the social, physical and moral welfare of that boy. Big Brothers, even though it is a non-profit, private organization, and mainly funded by other non-profit organizations, has thrived and expanded, into something that is more than just four walls. Big Brothers gives the Littles a sense of dignity, and sefl-esteem. Just through talking with one another and going to, and participating in events, they are building long lasting friendships and a bond just as a father and son would. One of the most important memories every boy has, is with his father. Every boy believes his own father is so strong, and sensitive. Yet there is nothing more important to a boy than the sharing relationship between him and his father, whether going fishing or learning how to skate, you feel a closeness that nothing can duplicate. That is what Big Brothers is all about.