Introducing the Jewish Youth Mentoring Program
Mentoring program’s new name reflects unique service it offers community
By Becky Lyle Sulkin, MSW, LGSW • Jewish Youth Mentoring Program Coordinator
JFCS is excited to announce that the Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister Program (BB/BS) is now the Jewish Youth Mentoring Program. This new name reflects the unique service we offer to the community, and promotes inclusivity of youth and mentors from all walks of Jewish life.
The decision to change it came from feedback from community stakeholders, including current participants/parents, Jewish youth professionals, clergy, and prospective participants. One parent explained, “I remember when I began to explore this program for my [child] a few years ago…I wasn’t sure if [they] qualified to participate….I remember feeling a little guilty at first too, that I was taking away a spot from someone who needed more than our family.” Others expressed similar sentiments, noting that “Big Brother/Big Sister” led them to believe that we primarily serve children facing adversity.
In fact, we serve Jewish youth of all abilities, backgrounds, families, and identities. It feels both appropriate and important that our name not reinforce a gender binary paradigm. It feels similarly relevant for the name to reflect our most important stakeholders: the youth! Many youth—especially older youth—do not feel “little,” and it certainly is not our aim to make them feel little! Our participants have big ideas, big aspirations, and big potential. At the heart of what we do is the belief that through mentoring, Jewish youth in our community can have a big impact.
We acknowledge with humble gratitude the rich history, familiarity, and outstanding reputation of the program cultivated under the Big Brother/Big Sister name. While the name is changing, this is still the same great program that has served hundreds of youth and families in our community over the past 44 years. The Jewish Youth Mentoring Program is rooted in the belief that anyone can benefit from mentoring. Our program is not based on an intervention strategy for helping at-risk youth get to where they “should” be – it leverages mentoring to empower youth, allowing them to aim for where they “could” be. Truly, the function of the Jewish Youth Mentoring Program is, and always has been, to elevate youth. We hope that our new name will resonate with Jewish youth, families, and mentors who share our commitment to positive youth development.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our program and the youth who participate!