Nearly 200 people gathered at the Holiday Inn Conference Center in Midland on Thursday morning to learn about the struggles, triumph and impact of youth mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region. The first ever Building Bright Futures event raised $97,500 to support the agency’s mission to provide at-risk youth in the region with professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships.
Pastor Wally Mayton, a 25-year board member kicked off the event with his story of how a mentor changed his life and shared his passion for creating change. Little Sister Naci Carter of Saginaw blew the audience away with her rendition of Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me,” a song she sang in honor of her Big Sister Crystal. After an impassioned speech by Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director Holly Miller, local mother Cheryl Stein gave a powerful account of how two Big Brothers set her two sons on the right track in life.
A recent study shows that 75% of children who have a Big Brother or Big Sister for just one year, go on to graduate with a four year degree. In comparison, only 13% of their counterparts outside of the program will graduate from college.
“Having a caring mentor in the life of a child can change everything,” shared Miller. “A relationship with that one person who listens and spend time with them erases self-doubt, creates possibilities and can break the chains of generational poverty. That’s good for our children and good for our community.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region has a bold goal to triple the number of kids served throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region over the next three to five years. The funds raised at the Building Bright Futures event will go directly toward achieving that goal.