I worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters for a year. It is a phenomenal organization. Belle...they usually have a policy of not matching kids who have any male people in his life as there are very few big brothers available. You'll have to stress that he barely sees his father if ever and that he is a terrible influence and that there are no other male people in his life (brothers, older cousins, uncles etc).
Highly recommend that any of you (men and women) sign up to be a big brother or big sister. It was a great accomplishment to get one new big brother each month!
Safety? They are pretty thorough. The men go are screened (their history, they speak with their boss and sometimes with family members or spouse, a psychological screening and a sort of aptitude test). Quite a few are non-douchy men in uniform (a lot of police, firefighters, paramedics) which obviously make great role models in a way. As in the kind who don't have a swagger or tell annoying stories about heroic things they've done. The councilors also ask them quite directly how the meetings go and are trained to look out for any potential problems. In Ottawa Canada where I worked there were no reported problems. Basically they have a much better record than teachers, day care workers and certainly better than baby-sitters.
Two different programs. Boys and Girls Clubs are an after-school program similar to the YMCA.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a different organization that pairs a kid from a family missing a mom or dad with an adult who acts as a friend and role model. It's not a peer relationship, but a mentoring relationship with an adult. The organization does an excellent job of vetting its volunteers and of pairing kids up with a Big Brother that fits their need.
If you ask me they should just have [female] chaperones and be done with it. No disrespect to anyone, but we all know the pitfalls of this kind of situation.
I like to make fun of macho men, like maybe act mad for having to wear pink underwear. But then I get these weird looks and rejection from Latino women before I can endear them. Maybe if I really wore pink underwear... hey, my daughters would understand! But not the motorcycle gangs.
That is great Melvinotis!! Yes, it's actually funny. Since posting this thread it seems that he's turned around and been a "star"child these last several days :) ....I have had a lot of contact with other moms lately with kids similar ages.
I think the root of my frustration when posting this discussion is an overall exasperation for the way American culture has become largely individualistic. I've voiced my frustration many times about it, and it becomes more and more maddening. I do believe that being part of a community is important.
I've come away from this discussion uplifted and inspired. Thank you to you all :) I've been reminded that 1. I'm not alone, 2. I need to continue to reach out and stay involved and seek perhaps a program like Boys and Girls club (now something I'm going to do) and 3. not get discouraged.
When I wrote this I was in a pretty sad place and just....feeling depleted and frustrated. Thank you everyone! I have a renewed hope. I'm going to try not to focus on being scared and just take it all a day at a time...