Crystal Davis, Holman’s Community Affairs Coordinator, likes to be sure she gets all her ducks in a row. And I mean every last duck. So it’s no wonder she was feeling a little nervous last Friday morning as she awaited a bus load of students from Lawnside Elementary School at Holman’s corporate headquarters in Mt. Laurel. These children were going to meet their adult mentors, all Holman employees, as of the inaugural lunch meeting of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) “Beyond School Walls” program.
BBBS matches adult volunteer mentors – “Bigs” – with kids – “Littles” — ages six through eighteen; in 2016, they made and supported more than 3,500 mentoring matches nationwide. Having this committed and caring adult in young lives produces higher aspirations, greater confidence, fewer risky behaviors, and more educational success.
In the Beyond School Walls program, companies host children from a nearby school at their corporate office; Holman is the first in South Jersey. The children meet in the workplace with their employee volunteer mentor two times monthly during the school day for about an hour. A BBBS specialist manages the program on-site while Bigs and Littles play games, do arts and crafts, tour the office or just talk. Beyond School Walls introduces children to jobs at an early age, giving them an opportunity to learn about the working world first-hand.
Now back to Crystal: for the past three months the tireless coordinator has been ironing out all the details to make sure this first lunch event at Holman was a success. There were catering questions, facilities requirements, A/V details, meetings with Holman leadership, endless discussions with BBBS, even coordination with local press outlets. As it turned out, the only thing that was easy was finding employees who wanted to mentor: in less than a day, Crystal found fifty potential Bigs and had to start turning disappointed employees away; this inaugural program can match only twenty-five Littles.
Although all mentors need to pass a rigorous screening process, few employees were washing out, and there remains a glut of Holman Bigs – but no surprise there, considering the great folks who work around this joint. Crystal reminds us, though, that BBBS is still looking for mentors for their “community-based” program, which means spending time in one-to-one outings and activities with a Little out in the community, rather than in the workplace.
So like all of our employees who continually find ways to connect with their communities, we should thank Crystal and her Holman Bigs, who are so powerfully impacting young lives.