An article in the Wall Street Journal this week highlighted the relationship of Fernando Luciano and Eric Lopez, a big/little pair from New York City’s largest youth-mentoring program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City. The pair met with reporter Ralph Gardner Jr. at a Dave & Buster’s in Times Square to talk about the impact the program has had on them. As per the article:
Mr. Luciano has been mentoring Erik, whose father died when he was 5, for the last four years. He picks the boy up once a month at the Queens home he shares with his mother and three sisters, but also keeps in weekly touch with him over the phone.
“Sometimes we’ll have to go over school things—figure out what he needs to do, before we go on an outing,” said Mr. Luciano, a partner in Unique Visuals, a Manhattan printing and graphics company. “We’re going to be speaking a little bit more now to make sure the grades are where they need to be.”
Erik acknowledged with a slight nod that his grades aren’t all they could be at the moment. “He’s much brighter than I think I was at 12,” Mr. Luciano added supportively. “Sometimes you think you’re talking to an adult.”
Erik acknowledged the importance of his relationship with Mr. Luciano, who is married but doesn’t yet have children of his own. “I’d be a different type of person,” he said. “I would be a bad student. If you don’t have a father type like Fernando…people like him show you what’s right from wrong.”
Mr. Luciano said that, with Erik’s consent, he hopes to continue mentoring him for a while. “It would mean a lot to me to see him through high school and college.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC (BBBS of NYC), the nation’s first and NYC’s largest youth mentoring organization, has served the changing needs of New York City’s most at-risk youth since 1904. The volunteer- and donor-based organization offers a variety of specialized mentoring programs to help children facing more complex challenges – including immigrant youth, teen mothers and children of incarcerated parents – as well as the Workplace Mentoring Center, which helps businesses throughout New York City positively impact the lives of young people and build a foundation for professional success. Additionally, since 1992 BBBS of NYC has worked through its Center for Training and Professional Development to equip non-profit professionals throughout New York City to develop and enhance their own mentoring and youth-development programs and organizations.
Through the support of individuals, foundations and corporations, this not-for-profit agency has been able to change the lives of the city’s most disadvantaged children, matching them with caring adult role models – dependable friends who can help to expand their horizons, realize their potential and enrich their futures. To learn more, become a mentor and/or offer support, please visit www.bigsnyc.org.
To read the full article, click here.