When Anthony Brewster and Paula Bielicki helped repaint and landscape Jere Baxter Middle School last Saturday, they weren’t just leading a standard service project.
They were helping their friends, even if those friends are just 12 or 13 years old.
Brewster and Bielicki are Comcast employees who mentor students at the East Nashville school through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. The nonprofit established Beyond School Walls, a special program with Comcast.
Twice a month, a handful of students from the East Nashville middle school are bused to the company’s offices in MetroCenter.
Tiffany Crawford comes into the office on her day off on Thursday just to meet with Deanna, one of the Jere Baxter students.
Because of the mentors she had growing up in Nashville, she said it made sense to offer herself as a friend and tutor to other students.
“It’s important for us to plant the seeds in the community and then see them sprout,” Crawford said.
In the months that have passed since the program started, Bielecki said she and her “little,” which is the term Big Brothers Big Sisters gives to the kids in the mentorship pairing, have become quick friends. They focus largely on academics during their formal meetings, but they still call each other just to check in from time to time.
“It’s gratifying on both ends,” Bielecki said.
When the students come to the offices, Brewster said he is just as excited as his “little,” Jerrion, is to spend time talking, throwing a football or even studying for upcoming exams.
“For what little time we’re together,” he said, “it’s amazing how strong a bond you can produce.”
It’s even one that’s strong enough to bring a middle schooler to campus on a Saturday.
Reach Brian Wilson at 615-726-5970 or on Twitter @brianwilson17.
To become a Big Brother or Big Sister in Middle Tennessee, go to www.mentorakid.org or call 615-329-9191.
Three ways to volunteer
1. Nations Neighborhood Cleanup and Spring Fair
A group from The Nations in West Nashville has planned a neighborhood cleanup project for Saturday in an area hit hard by the Nashville flood. Volunteers also are needed to help run the Spring Fair that afternoon.
2. Paint the neuter clinic
The soon-to-open Pet Community Center in East Nashville, which will offer low-cost neutering services, is looking for 25 volunteers to help paint the building’s interior on Dr. Richard Adams Drive. Equipment will be provided.
3. Project C.U.R.E.
Project C.U.R.E., a nonprofit that sends surplus medical supplies to third world countries, needs volunteers to help organize supplies at its North Nashville warehouse.