On a search to recruit more African American male mentors to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, the organization is heading to the barber shops to find potential “bigs.”
This Saturday, Tapers Barber Shop in St. Louis will host an in-shop recruitment event in order to spread the word about Big Brothers Big Sisters. This move is a new effort for the area by senior director of volunteer recruitment Vivian Gibson. She hopes that by spreading the word in such a central spot, more African American men will sign up as mentors.
“We go to barbershops because that’s where the men are, especially African American men, historically,” says Gibson. “They go to the barbershop and you can get men of all stripes of our culture and our society at the barber shop.”
Owner William Humphrey was approached by Gibson, who is also his customer, about helping to increase outreach efforts in the community. He held his first open house last month, and even got some sign-ups. He hopes that his efforts will help to put the next generation of decision-makers on the right path.
“These young children are the ones that are gonna make decisions for me and my peers,” he says. “It’s very important for these kids to have some kind of person or people in their lives that are moving forward that are doing some things that are positive.”
Gibson hasn’t been able to pinpoint why mentorship among African American males is lower, but is aware that time and cost might be a deterrent: “It doesn’t take a lot of time – 4to 6 hours a month, and it doesn’t take a lot of expense. We’re very, very careful to ask people not to spend a lot of money because we're trying to build a relationship, and we certain don’t want it to be based on money and gifts.”
Additional literature and current mentors will be available to answer questions in the shop. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 2904 Market Street.
Follow Erin Williams on Twitter: @STLPR_Erin