On Feb. 4, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts (BBBSEM) celebrated youth mentoring at the agency’s 24th annual Big Night at the House of Blues in Boston. Guests danced the night away to music by Michael Franti, supergroup Ezra Ray Hart, and Boston’s own French Lick. Held in-person for the first time in two years, the nonprofit’s largest fundraiser also featured Daphne Lopes, proud guardian of Little Aren and community activist as she was honored with the James J. Pallotta Award. The event raised more than $1.5 million to support the organization’s year-round community, site-based and campus-based programs.
Mark O’Donnell, President and CEO of Big Brother Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts, emceed the event and spoke about the importance of mentoring, now more than ever, as the need from youth and families has never been higher.
“Children are still feeling the effects from COVID,” says O’Donnell, a former two-time Big Brother. “Post-pandemic children benefit from a caring adult mentor who can help build social skills and self-confidence. We need more male identifying volunteers, as well as volunteers that speak different languages, to help create positive relationships between matches.”
Lopes, a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts Constituent Advisory Board member, proud guardian of Little Brother Aren, and community activist, shared her passion and gratitude for BBBSEM programming as she accepted the James J. Pallotta Award. In addition to thanking the village around her, including other guardians in the program, she shared a self-written poem.
Big Night is the nonprofit’s largest annual fundraiser. Since its inception in 1998, Big Night has raised more than $42 million, supporting one-to-one friendships between young people and adult mentors.
“I’ve seen firsthand the impact that mentoring makes in a child’s life,” says O’Donnell. “We rely heavily on the revenue that comes from special events like Big Night to continue running our programs. We need the public’s support and partnership as we continue serving as many youth and families as possible.”
Now more than ever, youth need additional academic, social and emotional support. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts partners with families to provide children with one-to-one relationships with caring adult mentors who help them reach their fullest potential. In its 74th year, BBBSEM aims to serve nearly 4,000 youth.
The nonprofit is already looking forward to next year’s 25th anniversary Big Night to be held at the MGM Music Hall on Feb. 23, 2024.
For more information, to become a volunteer or to register your children, visit: www.emassbigs.org.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts is an innovative, energetic organization that is making a real difference in the lives of nearly 4,000 youth annually by providing them with an invested, caring adult mentor in long-term, professionally supported relationships. With research and proven outcomes at its core, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts is working to defend the potential of children facing adversity and ensure every child has the support from caring adults that they need for healthy development and success in life. The organization’s vision is to inspire, engage and transform communities in Eastern Massachusetts by helping youth achieve their full potential, contributing to healthier families, better schools, more confident futures and stronger communities. Throughout its 74 years, the largest Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliate in New England has created and served more than 20,000 matches. For more information about the agency and its mission, visit www.emassbigs.org.