Lives Changed through Mentoring

About a dozen “Bigs” and their “Littles” enjoyed a Cavaliers basketball game recently, just one of fun activities that are part of the new mentoring relationships blossoming in the Central Promise Neighborhood.

“Bigs” is the term used by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland to describe mentors and the “Littles” are their new friends, 8th graders in the Central Neighborhood.

Big Brothers Big Sisters, in partnership with the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood, has launched this new mentoring program specifically for 8th graders in the community.

The goal is to provide each student with a caring adult mentor who will support them as they transition from middle school to high school and on to post-secondary success. The goal is also to have fun.

“My little sister wants to be there. She waits for me at the door,” said Jayme Palker, a mortgage banker with Quicken Loans in Cleveland. “I believe she’s getting a great deal from the program.

“She loves to bring her homework and learn. She has a desire, but struggles with certain things like reading and math.”

Palker is one of nearly a dozen Quicken Loan employees that have joined the BBBS and are mentoring Central Neighborhood students.

“I decided to become a mentor because I felt I would be able to bring a lot of great advice and consistency,” Palker said. “When we look back in life – we look at the positive role models we had … you never know the moment, hug, or pat on the back that can change the course of someone’s life.

“It’s great to think these little moments matter show much, and you might not ever know the impact you had – and it’s not for you to know. We just have to give back and put some love out there and hope it grows.”

The Promise Neighborhood initiative is committed to a vision that all children living in Central will have an opportunity to get a good education, go to college and have a meaningful career. The initiative is led by the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland and includes residents, businesses, agencies and other organizations committed to the vision.

Studies and Big Brothers Big Sisters information confirms that students that have caring adults who support them are more likely to be successful. Nearly 70 percent of former “Littles” surveyed agree that their “Bigs” played a role in their decision to attend college. And more than 80 percent of “Littles” agree their “Bigs” gave them hope and courage to overcome adversity, as well as instilling values that guided them through life.

“It’s a life changing experience and I can say it firsthand because I was a Big Brother,” said Jerrald Goodloe, Manager of Outreach and Enrollment at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland.

“This is a great opportunity for Promise partners and community members to directly support a young person in the neighborhood,” said Sonya Pryor-Jones, Director of the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood at the Sisters of Charity Foundation.

Want to be a mentor? You must be at least 18 years old and out of high school. There’s a one-hour training session, and ongoing support. Mentors have a flexible time commitment of four hours a month, preferably broken into at least two visits a month.

All mentors will be supported by a full time staff person dedicated to this program. Students and parents can also be confident that all mentors will be screened and trained. Call 216.452.5222 to start the process or fill out the application online at

Do you have an upcoming 8th grader that would like to join? Call 216.452.5222 to sign up your student or find out more information. You can also go to to find information.