A Few Good Brothers
Salinas doesn't have enough Big Brothers to go around.
Thursday, December 9, 1999
In 1904, a concerned court clerk by the name of Eric Coulter stood before a judge to speak about a young man about to be jailed.
"There is only one way to save that youngster, and that is to have some earnest, true man volunteer to be his big brother, to look after him, help him to do right, make the little chap feel that there is at least one human being in this great city who takes a personal interest in him. Someone who cares whether he lives or dies. I call for a volunteer!"
Every man in the room raised his hand.
With that, Eric Coulter founded Big Brothers of New York. He went on, with other like-minded people, to establish the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America.
In the present state of things, with the pressures that weigh down upon the youth of our nation, you would think it easy to find a few good men who could act as mentors and good friends to some young person looking for the right road through life. In fact, you would assume that you could state the very same thing that Coulter did nearly a century ago and see the very same unanimous results. There is little doubt that you could, unless of course, you live in Salinas.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Salinas is in dire need of more male members. Good strong men who want to help someone young achieve their potential as men in a harsh environment filled with pressures and avenues that we all know can lead down some pretty deadly streets.
"We have about 12 kids waiting to be matched right now," says Karen Sanchez, who runs Salinas'' Big Brothers Big Sisters program. "Some of these kids have been waiting for years."
Now, there are a fair amount of Big Sisters in Salinas. Enough to cover any of the young girls who may want someone to hang out with. It can''t be that Salinas is dry of kind men without criminal records, can it? The few guys who are a part of the program in Salinas are literally saints, it would seem. They don''t mind though, and they are changing the world "one person at a time" by becoming a big part of someone''s life, the choices they make, and how they view the world. The mentors become a part of the kids'' families, not as another authority, but as a wanted and trusted friend.
And want is the operative word. Big Brothers Big Sisters is not an intervention program, or one that matches young children already having problems with people unable to handle them. Big Brothers is something completely relaxed, completely about just showing someone your perspective and sharing the wisdom you have learned with someone who may take it better from you than from anyone else.
The application process takes an interview and a record check, and the idea that you''ll spend maybe four to six hours a week with a young kid. Walk around, see a movie, try to get him to explain what the heck Pokemon is about. Just do whatever, and you''ll communicate and you will grow just as much as the little guy you''re with.
Let your impressions of Salinas sit in your mind for a moment, just take a brief pause--if you''re like a lot of people in the county you think of crime, drug problems, locking your doors at night, and the stockpiling of flak jackets. There isn''t a city in the county that seems to need more help in guiding the young.
It takes a thousand bad influences to ruin the future for someone, and only one positively strong one to change the world for the better. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is doing that one little kid at a time.
Those interested are encouraged to contact Big Brothers Big Sisters at 655-9231.