TAMPA, Fla. — Continuing to reach out and mentor kids is the very heart of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.
So when a pandemic hits, you may wonder how the organization continues their mission?
"Our network has really pivoted towards the virtual in a very meaningful way," says Pam Iorio, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
That is especially true for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.
The organization serves around 3,000 kids across seven counties. Since the pandemic, they switched for virtual chats and some mentors even dropped off food to their littles' homes.
"We also started making matches over the internet, which we never used to do," says Stephen Koch, President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. "We always said they have to be done in person and we prefer that. Everybody prefers to be in person but we wat to keep everyone safe and we want to keep things moving because the need for our services is greater now than ever before."
The organization also partners with local law enforcement, like the Tampa Police Department, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and NFL players, like Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David.
In a month, Big Brothers Big Sisters will launch a new kind of online platform.
"We have an E-mentoring platform that we are launching next month so that all of our agencies can use the E-mentoring platform to ensure child safety but also it can be a platform for a lot of innovative programming going forward," explains Iorio.
The platform will utilize education to help the Bigs and Littles focus on different interest, like STEM.
"I've got a feeling we will always have this new service, this new virtual mentoring because it gives us access to kids we didn't have access to before as well as volunteers we didn't have access to before and I like that," says Koch.
If you are looking for a way to give back during this Pandemic, Big Brothers Big Sisters is still recruiting volunteers. To see if you'd be a match, click here.
If you know a child who needs a mentor, click here to see if they can connect you.