There’s a reason you’ll see a lot of photos of Tyco International employees on these pages. The corporation, headquartered on Roszel Road (right across the street from U.S. 1’s office), was honored for its outstanding record of service to the community by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer County, on Wednesday, July 15, at BBBS’s Summer Charity Classic. Approximately 150 guests gathered in the private room at Salt Creek Grille to enjoy classic summer cocktails and Salt Creek Grille specialties (all the service and food was a donation; alcohol and wine tastings courtesy of Allied Beverage, R&R Marketing, and Winebow).

The event raised $10,000 for the Mercer County chapter of this century-old nonprofit, which pairs adult mentors in one-to-one partnerships with children, ages 6 through 18. Big Brothers Big Sisters has earned high marks from the nonprofit watchdogs: Forbes gave it a “gold star” rating as one of its top 10 charities; Charitable Navigator gave it a “four-star, exceptional” rating, and the American Institute of Philanthropy gave it an “A+ rating.”

BBBS of Mercer County has measured the impact of the match relationship using a validated instrument designed by BBBS-National and the United Way. Of the parents and mentors who completed the survey in 2008, the results show that of the children who participated in the program for a minimum of one year: 90 percent were more self-confident; 82 percent had an improved sense of the future; 77 percent improved their attitude toward school, and 78 percent improved their academic performance; 72 percent were more able to avoid substance abuse; and 80 percent improved relationships with peers and 64 percent with adults.

While many people think of BBBS partnerships as between one adult (called a “Big”) and one child (called a “Little”), there are also opportunities for couples to be a Big, as well as high school and college students. There is also school-based mentoring, where Bigs meet with their Littles one hour a week in their school. According to executive director Susan M. Dunning, BBBS of Mercer County, in 2008 532 children were matched with a Big, who provide children with “guidance, friendship, and advice, versus the alternatives of despair, drugs, and dropping-out.” BBBS’s goal in 2009 is to serve more than 600 children in Mercer County.

If you’re interested in becoming a Big, visit www.bbbsmercer.org. There are currently 40 children on the waiting list. (There is a particularly strong need for men interested in becoming Big Brothers.) And if you like to eat mark your calendar for the organization’s next fundraiser, the Autumn Culinaire, which takes place on Thursday, October 19, 6 to 9:30 p.m., at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville. You can taste over 150 wines and international beers and sample the menus from restaurants including, Acacia, Blue Point Grill, Ota-Ya, Elements, Witherspoon Grill, and more. And for you chocoholics, Lindt Chocolates will be there too. The Meg Hanson band will perform. Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs, Capital Health Systems, and Klatzkin and Company have already signed on as corporate sponsors. Call Jackie Brendel at 609-656-1000 to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

Visit www.bbbsmercer.org.

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