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LVC Partners With Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capitol Region
09.21.12 |
Last year, a partnership officially began between Lebanon Valley College and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region (BBBSCR) that stemmed off a conversation between LVC’s chaplain and director of service and volunteerism, Paul Fullmer, and BBBSCR’s Lebanon program manager, Julie Baum. The partnership matched 18 LVC students with children facing adversity in Lebanon County.

The College had an eager volunteer in Tai Nguyen ’14, a biology major from Lebanon who has been volunteering since he was 16 and has been instrumental in recruiting other LVC students into the program.

“I was an only child growing up, and being an only child, I didn’t have too many people looking out for me,” Nguyen said. “My parents were always working because they’re first-generation immigrants. It got kind of lonely, but I always had good people in my life that would always push me to do better—to do well in school and make something of myself.

“I looked back and thought, ‘I’m lucky. I’ve had good opportunities with good people, and they took care of me,’ so I wanted to do my best to do right for somebody else.”

Nguyen volunteered to sit at the BBBSCR table at last year’s Activities Fair and actively recruited both friends and strangers. He dispelled any notion that involvement would overwhelm an already-busy college student, saying that an hour per week is a small commitment and that “Littles” did not need major entertainment.

Nguyen is a part of BBBSCR’s one-on-one mentoring program, in which a “Big” is matched with a Little until one or the other chooses to leave the program, and so he and his Little, Jarrett, have been friends for four years.

“Sometimes we go to the movies. Occasionally, we’ll go out to lunch or dinner,” Nguyen said. “We’ve gone to Baltimore together to go see an Orioles game. Every now and then, we’ll do big stuff, but normally we meet up on Sundays around 11 or 12 and just catch up on our weekend.”

The relationship between Nguyen and Jarrett has evolved. Jarrett is now a freshman in high school, so their time is now spent playing sports rather than video games, and talking about girls and high school life.

“He’s someone I call a really close friend,” Nguyen said. “I’m very close with his family now, too. Without his dad around, his mom calls me whenever he gets into any trouble or there’s something she doesn’t know how to talk about. That’s included puberty and all that stuff, too.”

According to BBBSCR, children involved in the program do better in school with higher aspirations, better relationships, and avoidance of risky behaviors. Baum is in charge of its Lebanon County operations and will continue to actively recruit LVC students.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region has been extremely fortunate to Start Something™ in the form of a partnership with Lebanon Valley College, and BBBSCR is excited to see how the relationship grows,” Baum said.

“The partnership has endless potential and we look forward to recruiting more LVC students this upcoming school year so we can help children achieve success throughout Lebanon County by providing them with student Big Brothers and Big Sisters from Lebanon Valley College.”

“Mentorship programs provide structured opportunities for mutual learning and inspiration in the context of meaningful relationships," Fullmer said, on behalf of LVC. "As a national organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters has an excellent reputation for establishing such relationships. Many of our students have worked with the group before coming to LVC. So we welcome the opportunity to partner with BBBS in our area and are overjoyed that the students have responded to the invitation.”

There are a number of programs within BBBSCR. Anyone interested in obtaining information should contact Baum directly at 717-712-6062 or jbaum@capbigs.org.   


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