Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio creates mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. As the organization’s President & CEO, Elizabeth Martinez is committed to fostering these relationships to build a more equitable future. She shares the impact of strong relationships in a guest column.
In the summer of 2021, a story was shared of 15,000 bikers from all across Germany that rode to the small town of Rhauderfehn to parade past the house of a six-year-old boy dealing with a life-threatening illness. He loved motorcycles and the bikers wanted to do something to lift his spirits and reassure him that there were people who cared about him.
All those people from different backgrounds and distant communities connected through a common purpose, a shared compassion. They built relationships and used a simple act of generosity to convey a powerful message to a young boy. It was as if they said in unison, “you matter, and we are here for you.”
As President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, I believe that showing up for young people when they need their network of support is the deepest expression of humanity. While showing up is the first step, building genuine connections is where we can tap into change and transformation on both sides of the relationship.
For most of us, the experiences and events with evidence of great success can be linked to a positive relationship with a role model, whether it be a mentor, parent, teacher, or coach. Conversely, young people who do not have access to the right relationships are often placed at a disadvantage. That’s why, for young people in particular, strong mentoring relationships are a foundational resource for future success.
The experiences some of our youth face today can be incredibly traumatic. As a result, we must explore holistic approaches that ensure they have the resources needed to achieve their full potential. Being seen, valued, and heard by adults in their ecosystem is central to building the creativity, brilliance, and restorative sense of hope and promise among our youth. That foundation, constructed with enriching experiences, support, and opportunities is central to creating on-ramps for success.
The effects of the pandemic has underscored the value of connections as a vital need of our humanity. Like many of us, our children are trying to regain a new sense of normalcy. Knowing that they’re doing so anchored in consistent, compassionate, and caring relationships provides a sense of hope as they navigate this unusual phase.
Whether in pursuit of solutions to complex crises or the navigation of ongoing efforts in our community — rapport and relational bridge building is not just a part of the solution, but the core of it. We are hard-wired for connection; to source, challenge, fuel, and support our dreams and fan each other’s flames. We can be that for each other and especially for the young people in our lives. We simply need to commit to creating, building, and nurturing those relationships; riding up and bringing a crew for one another when it matters the most.
We believe that the relational exchanges that occur between youth and adults can help create new systems, a new generative giving cycle, that uses the power of relationships to propel us toward a more equitable future.
What could be a more important goal?
Article by: Elizabeth Martinez, President & CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio