Impact100 South Jersey member Valerie Buickerood (pictured on left) has been a mentor in our grantee Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties Mentor2.0 program since the fall of 2022. The program was funded by the Impact100 SJ core mission grant in 2019 and was fully launched in 2021. Buickerood was matched with a H.S. junior named Luz (pictured on right) to help her identify her goals and map out her post high school journey. Mentors help strengthen college or career aspirations, and build an understanding of college eligibility, the application process, and support systems, or help mentees in their search for programs that align with their career goals.
Luz is in her senior year and getting ready to apply to colleges. Buickerood has supported her in drafting her personal statement, searching for schools that fit her goals and personal and financial criteria, and has helped her search funding opportunities. Additionally, she has coached Luz in a job search which landed her in a part time job last summer that will continue throughout the school year and help her save for college. They also enjoy sharing recommendations for books, music, and outdoor activities.
As one of several mentors recognized at the BBBS Rise and Shine Breakfast, Buickerood was given the Best Friend award for continuously seeking to help recruit mentors for the program. This year, the Mentor2.0 program at the Cumberland County Technical Education Center has grown. They are adding 46 new high school juniors, 40 of which are young women who need female mentors. Buickerood has shared that, like BBBS says, “it takes little to make a big impact” in this program. Mentor2.0 has made this process so manageable even for busy people. The majority of the program takes place online in the software that Impact100 SJ funded. Once a month, all matches meet for 2 hours at the high school in the evening for a group program and Zoom meetings are available upon request.
The impact of mentors in this program has proven to be powerful. The first cohort of students graduated in June of 2023 and 84% were accepted to 4 year colleges and universities or technical programs. That is an incredibly high number for a district where students struggle to pursue higher education! For this achievement and others, BBBS of Cumberland & Salem Counties received the 2023 Gold Standard Award from Big Brothers Big Sister of America. They have also kicked off a Big Move campaign to move from their very modest office on Landis Avenue in Vineland to a more centralized and modern office building with upgraded technology in Upper Deerfield Township in Cumberland County to serve youth for many years to come.
Buickerood strongly recommends volunteering as a mentor in the Mentor2.0 program as an easy way for busy people to make a big difference in a young person’s life. Check out their upcoming virtual info sessions.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland and Salem County Upcoming VIRTUAL Info Sessions
- Tuesday, October 3 | 5:30 to 6:30 PM
- Tuesday, October 10 | 12:00 to 1:00 PM
- Monday, October 23 | 5:30 to 6:30 PM
REGISTER for an Info Session at southjerseybigs.org/bbbs-infosessions/