Being a Big Sister has always been one of those things that Elisabeth Butterfield wanted to do, but just couldn’t make the commitment.
That is until a friend who had already volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters talked about everything involved, and how it can make a difference. And Butterfield was sold.
“I always wanted to get involved with the program, but I was noncommittal being a single person and all,” Butterfield said. “Then I realized that was stupid. It’s a very small commitment for such a big impact, and that is when I got over myself and finally did it.”
A year ago, Butterfield was matched with 10-year-old Chelsea, who already has a very active mom, Theresa. But like many parents, there are times Theresa can use some time for herself, and having Butterfield involved in the family is like having that aunt nearby.
“There’s all these life experiences that you can have as a child, but only if they’re available to you,” said Butterfield, who lives in Wesley Chapel. “For me, as a child, I never had sushi. I grew up in a low economic status myself, and for me, going out was going to Friendly’s. I didn’t know about dining out, and didn’t even know things like what side the fork goes.”
Those are just some of the benefits Bigs like Butterfield can share. But there are still dozens of children in Pasco County who could use mentoring like Chelsea, and that will be highlighted during an event this weekend at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays.
Clays for Kids kicks off at 9 a.m. at the center, located at 10514 Ehren Cutoff, in Land O’ Lakes. The event is not only a fundraiser, but a chance to attract more volunteers like Butterfield into the program.
The commitment to being a Big is just a few hours a month, said Jan Roberts, Pasco’s director of partnership development for the organization. And it doesn’t really cost much money, either.
“They are very, very into making sure that this is not a financial pinch for anyone, because they want to be sure they have Bigs of any economical background,” Butterfield said. “There are so many things to do, from trivia night, to bowling, and even tickets to games. They provide you with a lot of resources, so really, it’s very little out of pocket.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay will celebrate 50 years in 2014, from a national organization that has its roots all the way back to 1902. Big Brothers was formed in 1964 in Hillsborough County, and Big Sisters was added a year later through the efforts of juvenile court judge James P. Calhoun.
The organization now has 2,000 volunteers in Pasco, Hillsborough and Polk counties, but there is always a need for more. A study shared by the local Big Brothers Big Sisters says children who are mentored in the program are 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs — that number jumping to 70 percent when focused on minorities.
Another 27 percent are less likely to use alcohol, and 52 percent are less likely to skip school.
Butterfield is a recruiting manager and runs a small consulting business, all of which can eat up large chunks of her time. But that doesn’t stop her from spending time with Chelsea.
“Time finds you,” she said. “Everyone will say they don’t have time, but judging from my own experience, that’s just not true. They just don’t make the time.”
For more information on the Clays for Kids fundraiser, or to volunteer, call Jan Roberts at (813) 997-6881, or visit BBBSFl.org.
If you go
WHAT: Clays for Kids
WHO: Big Brothers Big Sisters
WHEN: Nov. 23, 9 a.m.
WHERE: Tampa Bay Sporting Clays, 10514 Ehren Cutoff, Land O’ Lakes
COST: Teams of four, $400; individual, $100