When Ponte Vedra local and Nease High School student Sheldon Griffith was in elementary school, his life was transformed by Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, a national organization dedicated to providing mentorship for children across the country.
The program matches children with mentors that share similar interests. Griffith got involved with the St. Johns County chapter as a child, and now, years later as a 16-year-old, he has decided to give back to the organization that gave so much to him.
“It was nice to have someone to lean on as a role model,” said Griffith, explaining that as a young boy he lacked a father figure and it was a wonderful way for Griffith to spend his time as a child. Griffith is now but a few months away from becoming an Eagle Scout, and he decided to support BBBS through his Eagle Scout project.
“I’d been with the program since I started Scouts, and I wanted to find a way to give back with my Eagle Scout project,” said Griffith, who was able to raise nearly $900 for his project and donated the leftover money that was not spent on materials back to BBBS.
Several months ago, Griffith had the idea to build several corn-hole game sets for the St. Johns County chapter of BBBS. After 70-plus hours of labor, Griffith has finally completed and donated the games.
“We look forward to using the corn-hole games at our recruitment events,” said Melissa Ryan, program director of BBBS in St. Johns County.
Ryan said BBBS is currently limiting its large in-person events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the organization is excited to make use of Griffith’s donation when the time comes.
Ryan also said despite the pandemic, the organization is still in need of volunteer mentors.
“The program matches mentors with children, who can enroll from ages six through 12,” Ryan said. “The program is community-based and site-based.”
Ryan said community-based mentors spend 10-12 hours a month with their assigned child doing activities such as going to the beach, going to lunch, etc., and site-based mentors visit the schools of their assigned child to spend time with them during their lunch break, during recess or after school. The program is specifically in need of male volunteers, but it is always looking for potential mentors to get involved with the program.
There are many young men and women like Griffith who have benefitted from the program. Griffith’s outward display of love for BBBS through his Eagle Scout project is just one of many examples of the lives impacted by BBBS.
To learn more about BBBS or to become a mentor in St. Johns County, go to www.bbbsstjohns.com.