The little boy believed that everyone went to prison. Literally, he thought that it was a part of life that everyone, at one time or another, went to prison. Everyone in his world had gone there and he assumed that he would too someday. He didn’t know why they went, just that they did.
That is obviously an extreme, but it’s true nevertheless. It is one of the goals of Big Brothers/Big Sisters to change the cultures of so many children. On a national level, the organization has existed for almost 100 years, and in Northwest Arkansas, they’ve been around for about 20 years. As to the kids involved in the program, most live in poverty, approximately 25% have an incarcerated parent, and most live in a single parent household. In addition 11% of them live with grandparents. It’s hardly a coincidence that they have a skewed impression of life in America.
The terminology in BB/BS is interesting. There are “bigs” and there are “littles”. The “bigs” are there purely on a voluntary basis, and there is a stringent process through which they go, including filling out an application, providing reliable references, going through a background check involving some governmental agencies, and finally an interview. Insuring the child’s safety is paramount. During the interview, the “big” will divulge his or her interests and likes in order to be able to find a good match among the “littles”. And, the “little” will also go through a type of interview to discern his or her interests and likes. Thus, the matching process gives the pairing a better chance of success. The matching criteria is based on ethnicity, location, and of course, interests. One key component for the “little” is a demonstration of enthusiasm in joining the program. That enthusiasm must be shared not only by the “little”, but by the parent as well. A one year commitment is required.
But once the initial process is completed, the good part starts. The “big” and the “little” start planning activities in which they are mutually interested. Maybe it’s just going out one afternoon for pizza. Or going to a movie. Perhaps, a ball game. The idea is for the “little” to be around a “big” who is genuinely interested in him or her, and who demonstrates a normal lifestyle, and normal reactions to his or her circumstances.
A key component is teaching kids the value of honesty and dependability. Far too often, the child has never had an adult on whose word they could count. The “big” is obligated to do what he says he will do.
Essentially Big Brothers/Big Sisters is a mentoring program designed to change the child’s perception of the world in which they live and to give them the tools to allow them to better succeed in adulthood.
And that little boy who thought everyone goes to prison? Now he knows better, and there is every chance that he will never experience that. His “big” has done a wonderful job of opening his eyes to the possibilities that world has to offer. Bikes Blues and BBQ is proud to provide financial support to help make these little miracles come to be.
Since 2000, Bikes, Blues & BBQ has generated over $1,300,000 for local non-profits.
Information about BBB Supported Charities.
In 2015, these were the non-profits that received direct donations from the rally:
Area Agency on Aging, Arkansas Support Network, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of NWA, Camp Alliance, Childcare Aware, Children’s Safety Center, Community Creative Center, Cooperative Emergency Outreach, Fayetteville Boys & Girls Club, Fayetteville Public Education Foundation, Fayetteville Youth Wrestling, Feed Communities, Habitat for Humanity, Havenwood, Jackson Graves Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Life Styles Inc., M and N Augustine Foundation, NWA Free Health Center, Northwest Arkansas Rape Crisis Center, Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter, Open Avenues, Ozark Literacy Council, Pagnozzi Charities, Peace at Home Shelter, Planned Parenthood, Restoration Village, Sheriff Ralph Baker Memorial Scholarship Fund, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Northwest Arkansas, Teen Action and Support Center, Washington County 4-H Foundation, Winslow Community Meals, Youth Bridge, Yvonne Richardson Center