Carmen* and Bobby (Big Brother) have been matched for over a year. Carmen is a 13 year-old African American boy that has two younger siblings, whom he often looks after. Throughout this last year, Carmen has had to deal with many adversities.Carmen often has to carry a lot of weight on his shoulders for his family, as his mother is not physically able to do as much as younger mothers. His mother’s health has continued to decline, his biological father took his mother to court and states he cannot afford to pay child support, the family’s home was recently burglarized and many of their valuables were stolen.
Through these ordeals, Bobby has been a strong, supportive guide. Bobby let Carmen know that, “Sometimes you have to deal with a lot of issues – more than most kids your age. You cannot let this get to you. You have to rise above and be resilient. If you can handle these kinds of problems, you can handle anything. Don’t give into the pressure. It is the easy out and you are better than that.”
Bobby has helped Carmen learn not to take out his anger and frustration on other adults or his peers. Bobby also assists Carmen with school projects. Carmen won an award in science with a project that Bobby helped him with. Carmen lives in a poverty stricken unsafe neighborhood. It would be extremely easy for Carmen to give in to the peer pressure of drugs, gangs, violence and drinking. However, he has not. Instead he has joined a bowling team, has learned to use exercise as a way to help outlet his frustration, and really encourages his siblings to help their mother. He is extremely polite, respectful and considerate. Carmen has hopes, goals and aspirations for the future. He refused to let the pressure of adolescence and society bring him down; he is working to rise above and continue to look to his Big Brother for guidance.
*Not his real name
Martha* is in the process of settling her divorce. She has not been employed for two years and is concerned about her ability to be a successful single parent. Her Family Support Worker from Burlington County Community Action Program (BCCAP) was also concerned about her parental capabilities and the change in her support system resulting from the pending divorce.
The Family Support Worker modeled parenting skills and provided Martha with information on single parenting, support groups, creating a resume and job interview techniques.
Since entering the program, Martha has made new connections which provide her with various services to help her succeed, including rental assistance, medical transportation, food stamps and Medicaid.
* Not her real name
Distraught after the loss of her husband, and feeling drained after acting as the caregiver during his 18 month long illness, Kathy* found that she couldn't bring herself to function. Unable to move on, she remained isolated in her home for months.
One day Kathy saw a flier advertising "Coping With the Holidays," a free grief support group offered by the Samaritan Center for Grief Support. With what little strength she had left, she registered and hoped this would be the key to feeling better agan.
The first day of the support group was difficult, but she found she felt comfort being surrounded by number of people who felt exactly as she did. For the first time in seven months, she didn't feel so alone. She was able to get through the holidays and started thinking of the future.
She was bouyed enough to register for a 6 week support group called "Grieving the Love of Your Life." The bereavement counselor gave her the coping mechanisms and tools to start living life to the fullest again. She resumed normal everyday activities, working part-time and made some newfound friends.
* Not her real name.