Wednesday, September 9, 2015

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In this series, professionals thank those who helped them reach where they are today.

Creating Mentoring Matches that Last a Lifetime

My mentoring experience began with my parents. They modeled the importance of treating everyone with respect and kindness. They shared their wisdom, offered support unconditionally and helped me reach my full potential. As I carried with me the life lessons they imparted, I came to realize how influential all of this was to the person I became and for the past 22 years, I have worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City (BBBS of NYC). Knowing how much mentoring shaped me, I am proud to be a member of an organization whose mission it is to provide children with mentoring relationships that positively change their lives.

Throughout these years, I have seen countless youth come into our program and be matched with mentors. While each match relationship has its own story, one that is a highlight for me is the story of Lendell and Jeff. I matched Lendell with his Big Brother Jeff in 1996. Lendell was motivated to participate in the program, and Jeff had the desire to be a positive influence to a young person. They were an active match until Lendell aged out of the program. Jeff and I remained in touch over the years, and he would share all of Lendell’s life events with me. To hear all that Lendell had achieved with Jeff by his side was immensely gratifying, from Lendell’s educational and career accomplishments, to also becoming a husband and father. It has brought Jeff such joy to be able to celebrate these wonderful milestones in Lendell’s life. Last year, I was given the opportunity to be reunited with Lendell on the Today Show. I hadn’t seen him in so many years, only having the memory of when he was still a teenager. To see him in person was truly an amazing moment. I was so proud to see him now as a successful adult and to see the bond that he and Jeff have after all of these years. Jeff has been, and certainly continues to be, a strong presence in Lendell’s life. It is a privilege to know them both.

This what we do at Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. We give access to youth to have mentors who may not have had the opportunity otherwise, and they are able to meet people like Jeff, who will be by their side cheering them on.

Valerie Stark-Trimarco is a current staff member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. To become a volunteer mentor or to learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, log onto or call 212-686-2042.