Volunteer Stories: Empowering Youth Through Mentorship

Feb. 28, 2022

Associate Director, Environmental Health and Safety Kelly States became a volunteer mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County over five years ago. What initially began as a way to make a difference in a child’s life has evolved into a meaningful relationship that she hopes will continue well into the future.

Kelly States and Carter are seated next to each other and smiling at a fair.

Carter and Kelly take a quick photo while enjoying the fun at Grange Fair.

By Vanessa Livingstone, Office of Human Resources

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is “to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth” by matching Bigs (mentors) with Littles (young persons). According to its annual impact report, the nonprofit organization matched more than 100,000 youth with adult mentors nationwide in 2020.

One notable match is between Kelly States, associate director, Environmental Health and Safety, and a 13-year-old boy named Carter. BBBS initially matched Kelly with Carter in November 2016. To this day, the pair continues their mentoring relationship.

What motivates me now is that I have a relationship with Carter and I'm somebody who's important in his life. It's about him now, more so than the volunteer effort.

Kelly and Carter aim to spend time together at least twice a month. Their activities include anything from cooking to playing sports like football or basketball. “I’ve been able to introduce him to a lot of things. To Carter’s credit, he has always been game for anything,” Kelly says. Now that Carter is in middle school, she also attends important events like school concerts or games.

Every year, Kelly attends the BBBS summer picnic with Carter – where his ultimate goal is to win the water balloon toss. “He’s wanted to win this water balloon toss since the first time we went to the picnic,” Kelly recalls. Kelly and Carter won the balloon toss at their third picnic, instantly creating one of their fondest memories together. “When we actually won he was so delighted.”

Kelly States and Carter make mini pizzas together.

The duo assembles personal pizzas together  cooking is one of their favorite activities.

Kelly hopes that her experience as Carter’s Big Sister will inspire other adults to volunteer. BBBS struggles to find enough male volunteers to match each young boy on its waiting list with a mentor. Because of this, many young boys age out of the program without being matched. “There’s just a tremendous need for any kind of mentors, particularly men,” she says.

In addition to BBBS, Kelly spent the past summer volunteering as a youth soccer coach. She also, time permitting, has taught college-credit math at a federal prison through Princeton’s Prison Teaching Initiative.

When asked who inspires her efforts, Kelly replies, “My dad — he’s always been a role model to me of being generous with your time and your talents, and looking for where you can be of help and add value.”

For more information or to become a volunteer, visit Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Photos courtesy of Kelly States.

Feedback? Questions? Suggestions for future stories on staff who volunteer with outside organizations? Please write to the HR Communications Team.