Suffolk University and its student-athletes, in partnership with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, have teamed-up to launch a new program aimed at mentoring and impacting the lives of students at the Donald McKay School in East Boston.
“Suffolk University is deeply committed to the East Boston neighborhood, especially its young people,” said Suffolk’s Senior Vice President for External Affairs John A. Nucci, a lifelong East Boston resident. “This is just one of the many ways our students will continue to contribute to this community and help Suffolk be a good neighbor for residents of all ages.”
“Being involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and the Donald McKay School in East Boston is a tremendous honor and opportunity for our student-athletes,” said Suffolk Director of Athletics Cary McConnell. “We are proud of their commitment to this endeavor and look forward to the program continually growing and becoming a big success.”
This collaboration is part of Suffolk’s continuous effort in providing opportunities for young people and athletes in East Boston. In September, Suffolk and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh officially celebrated the University’s new athletics home at East Boston Memorial Park, established through a private public partnership with the city of Boston. This partnership also supports and aligns with Mayor Walsh’s Mentoring Movement, which seeks to recruit 1,000 new mentors over the next two years.
Suffolk baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s soccer teams will now train and play home games at the park, sharing the facilities with East Boston High School and the East Boston community.
The Donald McKay School, serving kindergarten to eighth grade students, is located only a short distance from East Boston Memorial Park. It is easily accessible for Suffolk student-athletes participating in the Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer effort, just a short walk from the Airport train station on the Blue Line.
As part of the program, Suffolk student-athletes visit the Donald McKay School once a week for about 45 minutes, normally during lunch and recess time. Once there, they enjoy quality, one-on-one time with their Little Brothers and Sisters, participating in various fun activities, including working on the computer, listening to music, reading, running around outside, and playing board games.
Big Sister Sydney Littlefield, a Suffolk University sophomore, and her Little Sister Emily, a Donald McKay School fourth-grader, spend much of their time together in the playground, where Emily likes to do flips on the monkey bars and play basketball.
“The reason I decided to get involved in the program was to form a closeness and bond with someone like Emily,” said Littlefield, a two-sport athlete (volleyball and softball) at Suffolk. “She has a great personality and her smile is my reward. I want to give her the confidence to be an independent young lady.”
“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mass Bay is grateful to Suffolk University and its student- athletes for partnering with us and serving kids in East Boston as long-term, one-on-one mentors and role models,” said Thomas Bentley, collegiate & community partnerships manager for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. “While this partnership just got started, we are excited by the level of interest we are receiving from Suffolk students and look forward to the impact they can make by being Bigs.”
“This new partnership will allow our students to build meaningful relationships with a mentor through one-to-one friendships fostered during the school year,” said Jordan Weymer, principal of the Donald McKay School. “Having a college mentor, like a Suffolk University student-athlete, will provide our students with a role model that continues to strengthen our students’ belief that college is a real possibility.”