Every quarter, over 100 women and a growing number of men gather in Lorain County, Ohio to to raise funds for local charities. These groups, respectively known as 100 Women Who Care About Lorain County, and 100 Guys Who Care About Lorain County, meet with the goal of raising $10,000 each quarter to donate to a local charity.
Here’s how it works: At each quarterly meeting, members choose one local non-profit organization to support, and each member writes an individual tax-deductible check to the organization to make one aggregate and significant donation. Potentially, 100 checks x $100 each can mean $10,000 for a cause that matters.
This particular quarter, the charity that was chosen was the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. As a one-to-one mentoring program, the potential for impact on a child’s life can be life-changing.
One of the “Bigs” shared her personal story of being a Big Sister to a young lady with an economically disadvantaged background, who was working diligently to complete high school. This young lady was particularly at high risk because of bullying, and was succeeding in school because she was enrolled in an anti-bullying program.
One week from graduation, this young lady’s mother told her not to worry about finishing school, because “You’ll be fine, just like some of your other relatives. You don’t need to finish school."
When the Big Sister learned about this, she committed to be with the young lady for that last week of school, ensuring that she completed her homework assignments so that she could graduate.
Had the Big Sister not raised her voice, made the commitment, and encouraged the young lady to complete her high school degree, this young lady would not have become the nursing professional she is today.
The Big Sister wasn’t really telling her story—she was telling the story of one whose voice could have been silenced because of bullying.
We will overcome silence with our words and actions.
We will share their stories.
We will fight for those whose voice has been silenced.
When a parent or a bully seeks to silence the voice of a child, it crushes their identity. At our core, all we have are those two things—our voice and our identity.
Will you be the one that starts a movement?
Raising your voice is not always about fighting against a system that has failed; often it’s about standing up and fighting for what you believe in order to make significant and meaningful impact in the life of just one person.
If you’re interested in being a Big Brother or Big Sister, contact your local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency. Young women will often have to wait 9 months for a Big, and young men may wait up to 14 months. Think of the difference you can make in a child’s future if you raise your voice now.
Thanks for reading and sharing this article. You'll understand why Blog Action Day's theme for 2015, Raise Your Voice, resonated with me. When meaningful causes struggle every day to raise their voice, other authors such as Todd Henry (Louder Than Words) and myself have committed to helping individuals and organizations find and raise their voices.