Big Brother’s Of Greater Indianapolis American families were once thought of something that might resemble a 1950s sitcom. Marriages meant forever and children never knew the realities of life outside of little league and sandlot football. Yet, over time, this idea has become distorted, showing that the “Brady Bunch” scenario is really far fetched in itself. Families today do not fit the ideal mold of a structured family with 2.5 kids and a dog. Families today are more realistic, facing the realities of life,meaning divorce, death, desertion, and even mental and physical problems. Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis represents one of over five such organizations whose sole purpose is to provide idealistic role models to single-parent families.
By making life better for children, youth, and families, the Big Brother program is striving to prevent serious behavioral and personality problems that often inhibit a structured childhood (BBGI Annual Report, 1997). While these relationships are based on the idea of understanding and friendship, it also becomes important to evaluate whether such an organization provides the youth questioned with a more complete life. To many, the statistics speak for themselves. Joe VeneKlause (Personal Interview, 1999) a caseworker for the Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis points out that the presence of a caring and supportive adult mentor does make a difference. “With solid research and planning, Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis is planning and discovering new and expanded ways of meeting the needs of Big Brother youth (VeneKlause, 1999).” In 1995 research about the organization was conducted by Public/Private Ventures.
The purpose of this research was to determine whether such programs helped kids in the aspects of saying no to alcohol, drugs, as well as being more confident in their schoolwork and performance. Research continues today and into the future with the “Strategic Plan 1998-2003.” The idea is to broaden awareness of Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis and its success to get more people involved (Venick, 1997).”The agencys mission from the beginning has been to make life better for all single parent children bases on their continued accessed need. We will continue to incorporate solid planning and research until every need is met (Venick, 1997).” While research proves the overall effectiveness of the organization, the criteria for choosing the Big Brothers must also be considered. Role models are a good thing for anyone to have, yet they must represent “good role models.” Screening process for the Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis includes background checks, three well-reputable references, and an interview with an experienced social worker, as well as a copy of your driving record. The information provided is intended to find candidates that will provide excellent role models.
“Each of the Big Brothers goes through a screening process, not only for safeguarding reasons, but so that the organization can establish if their character meets the standards of what we are looking for (VeneKlause, 1999).” Through such criteria, it is possible to judge the character of a person, and ultimately whether they would serve as a good mentor and role model. These reputable young men who are chosen will in turn, serve as role models, not only for their little brothers, but for the community as well (Kessler, 1999). The Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis is an organization founded on the idea of helping others. Through evaluating its strengths, it is easy to see that very few weaknesses can be found. Through the interview with Joe VeneKlause, as well as further researching and exploring the daily process of the organization, it is obvious that the dedication and relentless efforts of each member is never less than one hundred percent. Just like a team, an organization such as this, is only as strong as its weakest member. These weaknesses occur only because the need exceeds the supply.
There are currently four hundred and fifty children in the Indianapolis area alone that are on a waiting list to receive a Big Brother (Kessler, 1999). While the organization is doing everything that it can, they are still in need of help and more Big Brothers. The process takes time, but the organization hopes that awareness, as well as the satisfaction of knowing you have made a difference in a little boys life will ultimately prevail. “The community has been really supportive of our efforts in the past and we hope that this trend will continue to grow in the future, because there is more of a need now (for Big Brothers) than there ever has been (VeneKlause, 1999).” Big Brothers have to deal with a variety of problems that can sometimes be emotionally and physically straining. The children come from a wide range of backgrounds, including ones that often pertain to drugs, alcoholism, and a variety of abusive situations (BBGI Annual Report, 1998).
The organization becomes an ideal and logical answer to the worlds children. By simply taking four days out of the month to be a Big Brother to one of these kids, it is giving them a chance in a world where there are very few for these kids. Children who have never had a structured influence in their lives finally have someone to look up to. Debbie Knot, a board member, and parent of a child who was a little brothers sums it up best: “Most of us will never do really”great” things, but we can all do “great” things in small ways!” Bibliography Big Brothers of Greater Indianapolis (BBGI) Annual Report (1997) Building Friendships, Building Lives. Indianapolis, IN: 1-15 Kessler, L. (1999).
Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America [On-Line] Available Site: www.bbsorg.com VeneKlause, Joe (personal communication, September 30, 1999) endorses this view of the paper. Vernick, Victor, E. (1997) From the Board of Directors Desk [On-line]Available Site: www.BBGI.com/DD.