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We Are Bigger Together

A community leader challenges us to be part of the change needed to achieve a better society.

by Donna Bennett

Every day our team at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties works hard to foster a better tomorrow for the youth in our community.

As we strive so hard to unite our community and build long-lasting relationships between our diverse group of ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles,’ I am deeply troubled by the racially charged incidents that occur too often throughout the black community.

The peaceful protests throughout the country align with our message of unity, compassion, and creating a better tomorrow for the youth in our community.

Injustice is something we cannot be numb to; it is something we cannot ignore. We must denounce racism, bigotry, and prejudice.

Watching our one-to-one mentoring relationships grow has shown me the importance of asking the tough questions, listening to that person, and acknowledging their experiences. It has also taught me that all of our experiences are surely not the same and as much as we want to believe they are, the fact of the matter is that the color of a person’s skin does make a difference in their day-to-day life.

Every day I witness two strangers with different backgrounds build a relationship and become family. These relationships are powerful and both parties benefit. Both parties accept their differences and work to prop up their confidence and tear down insecurities. By fostering an environment of higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships, we can overcome division and create a community built on understanding and love.

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties, we will make sure our ‘Bigs’ and staff are informed and able to hold tough conversations about racism, bigotry, and prejudice to better support our ‘Littles.’ We must engage in a conversation on authority and be sure to build strong and respectful relationships between all community members. Division will not create the change we need, but conversation and unity will.

This is only the beginning of what I believe we can do to create change. We can’t just speak, we must act.

Relationships are powerful. They can change the world. As we continue to foster one-to-one relationships, I believe, we can play a significant role in changing not only our community here at home but our country as a whole.

Donna Bennett is president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties.