The CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City, the country’s first youth mentoring organization, opened up new offices throughout the five boroughs. Batista helped cut the ribbon for the last office in Jackson Heights last week.
“We felt it was important for us to have a physical presence in all these different locations because it would make it easier for our families and ‘bigs’ to be able to get the services we provide as an organization,” Batista said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters matches volunteer mentors, called “bigs,” with at-risk youth, or the “littles.” They conduct an FBI-style background check to screen volunteers and also provide training to the bigs. To match a mentor and a mentee, the organization finds some common interests.
“For example, if the big likes baseball, we try to find a little that likes baseball,” Batista said. “So it has a starting point.”
Batista cites that there are roughly 500,000 kids living below the poverty line, 200,000 of whom come from single-parent households. That’s the population he wants his organization to help.
“Sometimes you take for granted having the positive role model in your life, how important that is,” he said. “Some of us are lucky to have a father and a mother in our life. Some of these kids don’t have that.”
“There are a lot of young men out there who need role models in their life and a lot of young girls who need role models in their life,” he added.
Batista hopes that by adding additional office locations, youth and volunteers will have easier access to services they provide.
“That’s the commitment I’m making as the head of the organization,” he said.