In the six years that Penn students have been part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, they have made it the largest in the Southeastern Pennsylvania region, providing more volunteers than any other single college, university or corporation in the Philadelphia area.
On Oct. 20, the University held a ceremony to commemorate the 1,500 matches that have been made between “Bigs” (Penn students) and “Littles” (students from 11 area schools and community centers).
At the ceremony, Joe Tierney, executive director of the Fox Leadership Program, encouraged the Big Brothers and Sisters participants to “do something little and be part of something big.”
Penn President Amy Gutmann joined the students to congratulate them on another successful year of mentoring—this academic year there are more than 400 active matches among Penn students and little brothers and sisters.
“Each and every one of you knows how important it is to make a difference in the life of a child,” she said. “Children’s potential, their ability, their imagination is boundless.”
Gutmann recognized Laura Jeanne Kemp (N’11), who served as a Big Sister during all four of her years at Penn, and Alexander Shahery (C’11), 2010’s Penn Big of the Year. In addition, Gutmann presented Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania CEO Marlene Olshan with an award for her partnership and support of the Penn Big Brothers Big Sisters program since its founding.
National research conducted by Tierney in 1997 showed that having a “Big” resulted in “Littles” being less likely to use drugs and alcohol. In addition, “Littles” who took part in the program skipped fewer days of school and performed better in their classes.
“The best programs in the world can’t substitute for care from an individual,” said Gutmann in her remarks. “All students who participate know that there is nothing more important than volunteering.”
Originally published on October 22, 2010