Big Brother trying to make a difference
What is BBBS?
The vision of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda (BBBS) is “to create and support one-on-one relationships between caring mentors and young people in need. Through these consistent, long-term relationships with positive role models, our young people, who are primarily from single parent homes, are able to measurably enhance their emotional, social, and recreational well-being and reach their full potential.”
---- There objectives are to:
---- Provide a mentor for every child living in a single parent home who would like one.
---- Continue to be the premier professionally managed community-based mentorship programme in Bermuda.
---- Ensure the highest standards of professional match coordination and management.
---- Support the development of match relationships.
---- Establish and foster long-term commitments on funding and mentorship partnerships with Bermuda's business community.
---- Ensure that the organisation continuously has quality leadership.
---- Offer programmes that reflects Bermuda's unique cultural values and needs.
---- Continue communications initiatives that support Big Brothers Big Sisters reputation in the community.
---- Support children that we serve in obtaining higher education.
When Pastor Dean Smith was contemplating becoming a Big Brother he was worried that he would not have enough time to do a good job and give his Little all the help and friendship he needed. After all Pastor Smith has a demanding job and he had already brought up three children and the youngest is now 21 years old.
But take on the job he did . . . and he has not regretted it one little bit.
Pastor Smith is the Big Brother to Zamauri Richardson who turns seven years old on Saturday.
Zamauri's mother, Mia Richardson, said: “Pastor Smith has been great with Zamauri because his father is not in his life and all young boys need a male role model especially in these times.”
Pastor Smith said: “I took over as a Big Brother on May 31 last year and this is the first time I have ever done it. I was kind of sceptical going into it because I didn't think I would have enough time. And secondly to come along (and act as a role model for) a six- year-old was a big adjustment. I have three daughters and my youngest is 21 years old. I thought that (being a dad to young kids) was all over now. But I had heard of Big Brother Big Sisters and you definitely see the need for them especially with what is going on in Bermuda right now. You see children coming from single homes and I kept feeling that I had to do something I had to play a part to try and give back because I was fortunate to come from a two-parent home with a stable upbringing. So I ventured out and applied to Big Brothers. I went through the screening process which everyone must do and I was accepted.”
And Pastor Smith said he is not in this for the short term.
“I am hoping if they allow me to be in this young man's life for the long term. This is no fly-by-night thing I am in it for the long haul.”
Zamauri's mother, Ms Richardson, said of Pastor Smith: “He is a wonderful man and everything seems to be working out well they get along great together. I really wanted a male role model for my son and they spend most weekends together. Pastor Smith takes Zamauri to the park and frequently Spittal Pond my son loves to go down there. They go to the playground and barbecue sometimes. Zamauri has an excellent relationships with the Pastor.”
Ms Richardson, who also has a young daughter, said: “It is vital for my son to have a good male role model because his father is not in his life at all. He is always looking for a positive role model. And also my son loves (going to) church he is in our church Marsden Methodist Church and he is active in the youth choir and that is why Pastor Smith is excellent for him. Pastor Smith takes him to his own church as well. With the times as they are now it is important Zamauri has someone positive to look up to.”
Pastor Smith agreed saying: “A lot of young boys have no male role models. I believe that is a large part of our challenge today because there are no positive and adequate role models. Many of the role models are in the wrong world as far as I am concerned. I decided to do my best to be a positive influence in the generation coming behind now. I wanted to try and be of some assistance and do what I could.”
Of many fathers today, Pastor Smith said: “They make them (babies) but they are not standing there to raise them. Raising children involves sacrifice and it is tragic what I see especially as a Pastor. It is alarming and frightening if the trend doesn't turn around it is frightening for the young people coming up.”
So after talking it over with his wife he decided to join the BBBS organisation.
“My youngest is 21 and is still at home so I am still parenting but it is a different kind of parenting (than parenting a six-year-old). My wife was on me for a while asking whether I would have sufficient time to be a Big Brother. I am very busy. But we talked about it and she told me to go and do what I could. Zamauri now comes to the house and sits at the table with us it is one big household and all of us enjoy him as well. He is a very nice boy and he seems to like to be with me. I have taken him to different places. He also has his own church which he goes to but every now and then I will take him to be with us (at Pastor Smith's Open Door Christian Assembly which leases the Roberts Avenue Seventh Day Building).”
After deciding to become a Big Brother, Pastor Smith said he wanted to do what he could for whoever he could do it for.
“I consider myself most blessed and fortunate as I have also learned the secret of contentment. I have learned to enjoy the meager things in life. If you do not have the big things it doesn't make you who you are.”
And that is one thing that, like many others, Pastor Smith finds so perplexing.
He said: “We were raised to make do with what we had to be satisfied with what we had and if you wanted something you had to work and save for it. Now everything must be instant like a microwave. We were raised differently and were raised to value things if you didn't have it then you were to do without it. But there was a level of contentment there not frustration.
“Now there is TV, the internet and cellphones which babysit the children. We were taken to the seashore to go fishing. Those were happy days this life can be a blessed life if you want it to be.
“I think of the little things that we enjoyed that brought great happiness and contentment. We played cricket and football when you came home you were tired you went to bed!”
Pastor Smith plans on spending much time with his Little teaching him to swim. “He says he can swim but he can't! That is one thing we will do this summer actually he wanted to go swimming the other day but it was way too cold for me! But I want to teach him outdoor things like I did when I was young. We used to play cricket, football and swim. I want to get him active. Today many (children) sit in front of the TV all day they don't play marbles anymore in fact they have stopped going outdoors.”
And Pastor Smith urged fathers to set a better example to their children.
“More are being caught than being taught,” is how he described it.
“Your child sees you selling drugs what kind of example is that? You have to set an example in words and deeds.”
He also urged both parents to keep a keen eye on what their children are doing in school.
“I have visited Zamauri at his school (Victor Scott) and have been made very welcome by his teachers. Yesterday I went down and was in his English class I will stop in impromptu and the teachers have welcomed me anytime I have turned up. I want to make sure he can read and write because often schools today will pass a child through and then they get to P5 and are ready to go to middle school and they are reading at a P2 level. It is not fair on them they should be kept back until they can read (at the appropriate level). Our children have to be more articulate than they are.”
Pastor Smith also urged parents to back up the teachers.
“When we were growing up, there was no problem with teachers correcting the children. If teacher corrected you and you got home and if your mom and dad found out they would ask you ‘what's up with your behaviour'. My parents always backed the teacher I would end up getting corrected twice. Now some parents go down and challenge the teacher and the kids see that and then feel they can get away with it and end up becoming lawless.
“Also years ago neighbours would correct you and you respected adult authority. A lot of that is missing today as well a lot of that has disintegrated.”
Pastor Smith has much sympathy for single mothers today.
“Some of the single mothers have two or three children all close in age. It is not an easy life being a single mother it is demanding to raise children. And if you do not stay on them they will fall through the cracks. If the family is not healthy then the community is not healthy. And if you get a lot of unhealthy families, when those people leave home, that stuff spreads into the community. Many years ago there was an extended family but not as much today.
“They say ‘it takes a village to raise a child' and I ask ‘how can we help this generation coming behind us'.”
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