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From The Enterprise of Brockton: Introducing Old Colony Y Mentoring

Friday, August 24th, 2018

By Marc Larocque
Enterprise Staff Writer
Original News Article Here

The Old Colony YMCA, which includes sites in Brockton, is parting ways with the Big Brother, Big Sister brand, but is continuing on with an integrated youth development and mentoring program.

BROCKTON – The Old Colony YMCA is parting ways with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, after a longtime partnership with the national mentoring program.

The Old Colony YMCA, which has sites in Brockton, Taunton, Easton, East Bridgewater, Stoughton, Middleboro and Plymouth, announced that it is continuing with an integrated mentoring program, but without the banner of Big Brothers Big Sisters, which it has been operating under for the past 25 years.

“That’s not in any way meant to be a negative, but rather to, I think, allow us greater flexibility, with the depth and breath of mentoring services that we have and continue to provide,” said Vincent J. Marturano, president and CEO, Old Colony YMCA, speaking to The Enterprise at the Brockton Y on Wednesday. “We’re at the point where we are very different. We just feel now is the time.”

The new, rebranded mentoring program at the Old Colony YMCA will be called “Old Colony Y Mentoring,” Marturano said. The Old Colony YMCA made the decision because it has realigned its mentoring model to be more integrated with other wraparound services provided through the nonprofit, Marturano said, as opposed to limiting the program to the unique brand of “one-on-one” mentoring championed by Big Brothers Big Sisters. “I think it’s been a great relationship, but we’ve built our own system, if you will,” said Marturano, who started as the director of the Brockton Y in 1992, when the organization was first approached by the United Way of Greater Plymouth County about being the sponsoring agency for a local Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate.

Allison Daley, executive director of family services for Old Colony YMCA, said her organization wanted to be able to offer other services to local families during the six-month period it typically takes to vet and match mentors, as part of an integrated approach to mentoring for their youth, including mental health counseling, school support, and scholarship-funded stays at summer camp.

“Many times, a family is coming to us for a mentor at a point when other things haven’t worked. We wanted to be able to offer them resources and support immediately,” Daley said. “We’re never going to have enough mentors to support the volume of kids who could benefit from a mentoring relationship. So, given all the other opportunities we have at the Y, we’ve always tried to utilize those to support the families when they come to us.”

At any given time, the Old Colony YMCA has 50 one-to-one matches of mentors with local youth, providing guidance, going on visits and doing activities together. But through its other mentoring services – with partnerships with Stonehill College, Bridgewater State, and peer mentoring programs such as a weekly teen program at Roosevelt Heights in Brockton. The Old Colony YMCA is able to support 200 local children.

“We have a lot of different models, including supporting the families waiting for a mentor,” Daley said. “Over the course of the year, in other capacities, we’re probably supporting 200 kids through our mentoring programs, which I think wouldn’t be in alignment with the Big Brothers Big Sisters model.”

Daley said Old Colony Y Mentoring would continue with a rigorous screening, extensive training and a mutually beneficial matching process for one-on-one mentors, which are in demand. A volunteer gig as a mentor is not only personally fulfilling, it also comes with a free Old Colony YMCA membership and other benefits, the organization said.

“We’re being very intentional about our matches to put them in a great position to be successful,” Daley said. “There are expectations for frequency of meetings, and a case manager for troubleshooting and family support.

The feedback we get from the mentors is that, ‘I didn’t know if that was something I could do.’ ‘Someone said I should try it and it was really less work than I thought it would be.’ And, ‘I benefited more than the child has.’ ... It really does make a difference to people.”

Learn more about Old Colony Y Mentoring.