Gift to specifically aid Big Brother recruitment with goal for over 100 male mentors
ORLANDO - Glen Marie Hamilton, the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, has so many heartwarming stories to share about youth who turned their lives around thanks in large part to the mentorship they received from a big brother or big sister. One example is that of Shyne and his big brother Rickey.
The two first matched in the program several years ago when Shyne was just five or six years old. Being shy (and not only in name!), it took him some time to open up. But once he did, the influence Rickey had on him was enormous.
“Shyne now does well in school. He wants to be a lawyer, and he wants to go to Florida State, where Rickey also went. He plays football now,” Hamilton said. “Rickey has taken him to a few Florida State football games. They just enjoy their time together. Rickey exposes him to new things he wouldn’t be exposed to if he were not in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.”
They are still brothers to this day, and Rickey, a lawyer, was recently named the Big Brother of the Year. Shyne, meanwhile, is a high school student thriving academically and athletically. And now, more than ever, there is a need for this type of mentorship for boys in the Central Florida community.
So naturally, Hamilton was overjoyed at the opportunity to help create even more of these life-altering relationships when she found out that the DeVos Family Foundation would be donating $30,000 to her organization as part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative.
“It was truly an honor to meet with the DeVos Family Foundation to talk about our program, what we do here in Central Florida, and how any type of assistance can be put to good use,” Hamilton said. “When we found out we were awarded the grant, we were very excited. Our focus is on prevention. A lot of the boys who are waiting are youth who come from single-parent households. They may not be doing the best in school, and they may be at the age where they start to hang out with the wrong crowd.”
The impact of this gift will be immense because it will go toward recruiting over 100 big brothers for boys in the area that need mentorship.
“It really keeps us going when we hear the stories,” Hamilton said. “It’s what keeps us trying to match more kids and trying to get donors and the community to understand what we do. We know that it’s life-changing. It’s life-changing not just for the child in the program but also for the family because they see changes and improvements as well.”
Big brothers and big sisters meet with their mentees a few times a month during lunch, after school, or out in the community. They spend time doing activities that interest both, such as board games, sports, or going for a walk.
Studies have shown that when youth have a mentor, they have higher self-esteem, get better grades, and stay out of trouble.
“Our hope is that in the future those same youth who are littles now in our program will become bigs in the program later on, to then have it be a cyclical relationship,” Hamilton said.
As part of the DeVos family’s 30 Grants for 30 Years Initiative, a total of $3 million will be donated to 30 area nonprofit organizations over 18 months, investing in people and projects impacting youth, essential needs for families, and community enrichment across Central Florida.
“We wanted to mark this 30-year milestone by recognizing nonprofits making a meaningful difference in the Central Florida community,” said Orlando Magic Chairman Dan DeVos. “We’re eager to continue to come alongside strong community leaders and organizations doing impactful work, providing financial support as well as further opportunities to shine a light on the great things these nonprofits do day in and day out.”