The tragedy of Freddie Gray’s death has led to many things including an massive uprising around the country, riots in Baltimore, social media outrage worldwide, tears, love, hate, anger, empathy, and even apathy. His death has also led to the inducement of the six police officers involved in his arrest and murder but there is one thing Freddie Gray’s unfortunate death has led to that isn’t getting a great amount attention.
In less than two days following all the uproar in the streets Baltimore, the city’s chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has received an overwhelming amount of support and interest from mentor applicants. A 100% increase would be quite significant; 500% would be amazing; but the 3000% increase in mentor applicants for the Baltimore chapter of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is astronomically awe-inspiring.
“To have people reach out and say, ‘I want to make a commitment for the next year of my life spending every week with a young man or woman,’ is blowing my mind actually,” said the President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake Terry Hickey to NBC News.
While the organization is used to receiving approximately 5 inquiries per week, Hickey pointed out that the 500 inquires he has received within the last few days is mind blowing and unexpected.
With the constant images of black youth running, looting, and shouting in the streets of Baltimore, Hickey didn’t know how people would react to those powerful images. He was delighted to find out that people didn’t give up on the kids, instead they listened to their pain and realized these kids needed positive influences in their lives.
Hickey also added, “I’m hoping this means people aren’t about blaming kids for what’s happened, but are recognizing that mentoring needs to be right up there at the top of the list when you talk about building communities.”
For those that don’t realize how significant this is, the number don’t lie. According to Big Brothers Big Sisters, research shows that 18 months of spending time with their “Bigs,” Little Brothers and Little Sisters were 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol, 52 percent less likely to skip school and 33 percent less likely to hit someone, as compared to those children not in the program.
If all 500 of these new applicants actually follow through, that is huge win for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and an even bigger win for the kids that will benefit from their mentorship. This is a perfect example of people being the change they would like to see.