Former New England Patriots defensive end player Garin Veris brought his experience and enthusiasm last week to Boothbay Region High School to inspire students there to become youth mentors as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine. His visit with the school’s football team and other students was part of the agency’s efforts to recruit volunteers to become “Bigs” in the school’s new school-based mentoring program.
“We are pleased to be partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine and are looking forward to having this important program here in our community,” BRHS Principal Dan Welch said. “It’s a valuable resource and meaningful volunteer opportunity for our students. Having a role model like Garin Veris here is inspiring.”
Veris’s visit is part of the NFL’s “Inspire Change” effort to help recruit mentors, in particular, to inspire young men to become role models for boys. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America created “The Big Draft” theme to align with the annual NFL amateur football draft. Veris, a former board member for BBBS New Hampshire and long-time advocate for youth mentoring, has more recently partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine to support fundraising events and share his story at local schools to inspire youth mentoring.
His BRHS visit helped kick off the agency’s newest school-based mentoring program, matching high school students there with kids attending Boothbay Region Elementary School. Matches will meet for an hour once a week at the elementary school to share experiences, spend time reading, playing board games and building friendships. Screened and trained adult school-based volunteer coordinators will oversee each weekly meeting and will provide support to matches. BBBS will provide training for student mentors and connect monthly with Bigs and Littles in person to ensure safety and healthy relationship development.
Veris graduated from Chillicothe High School (Ohio) where he starred in football, basketball and track. After high school, he attended Stanford University and was inducted into the Stanford University Athletics Hall of Fame. Veris was taken in the second round of the 1985 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. During his rookie season, he recorded 14 sacks – including four in the playoffs – and started in Super Bowl XX.
“I am always happy to have the chance to help youth by speaking to them and being available to answer questions they have. I especially appreciate being able to talk about Big Brothers Big Sisters and their programs,” Veris said. “One-on-one mentoring is important to provide children positive relationships and role modeling. I hope I was able to inspire some of the Boothbay high school students to be a part of this important program.”
Gwendolyn Hudson, executive director of BBBSMM, said having Veris share his experience is very inspiring to young people. “We appreciate his dedication and efforts to travel all the way here to support Big Brothers Big Sisters and our work in the schools and local community,” she said. “Garin has a way of connecting with youth, and we were excited that he could be at the Boothbay Region High School to speak about our program.”
In addition to school-based programming, Big Brothers Big Sisters has also provided community-based mentoring for over 40 years in Lincoln County. Community-based matches are made between adults, 18 years and older, with children in the community, who meet for two to five hours each week on their own time. Meetings might include attending a sporting event, going for walks, biking, bowling or other activities. The agency screens, trains and provides monthly match support with Big Brothers Big Sisters professional staff.
Statistics and national research shows that positive relationships between Littles and their Bigs have a direct and measurable impact on children’s lives. “Littles” in the program are more confident in their performance at school, are able to get along better with their families and peers, less likely to begin using illegal drugs and alcohol and are less likely to skip school. Locally, youth in BBBS Mid-Maine mentoring experience increases in self-confidence, trust toward their mentor, positive attitude towards school and an increase in ability to express feelings.
For more information on Boothbay’s Big Brothers and Big Sisters High School mentoring program, contact Ryan Rice 207-236-2227 ext 101 or email Ryan@bbbsmidmaine.org. For more information about becoming a community-based volunteer in the Boothbay region, please contact Teresa Valdepenas 207-236-2227 ext 103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get involved and help ignite potential in your community through BBBS visit bbbsmidmaine.org or call 236--BBBS (2227).