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FBI Director James Comey Presents Community Leadership Award to a Portland Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program

FBI Portland April 04, 2014
  • Beth Anne Steele (503) 460-8099

On Friday, April 4, 2014, FBI Director James Comey presented the Director’s Community Leadership Award to the Second Chance Program run by Big Brothers, Big Sisters Columbia Northwest. Tami Wallis, the Second Chance program manager, accepted the award from Director Comey during a ceremony at FBI Headquarters. Second Chance is a program that pairs adult mentors with youths ages 12 to 17 who are currently involved in the juvenile justice system.

“We know that some kids need the help and opportunities offered by programs such as Second Chance to break the cycle of bad choices that lead them into the justice system,” said Gregory T. Bretzing, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “These mentors truly care about encouraging and supporting these youth as they work to get an education, gain life skills, and find the path to a successful and productive life as a member of our shared community. We are proud to have nominated Big Brothers, Big Sisters’ Second Chance program, and we applaud the work they do.”

Every year, each of the FBI’s 56 field divisions chooses one person or organization to receive the Director’s Community Leadership Award. Each recipient must have shown a commitment to crime prevention or community service.

Volunteers who work with the Second Chance program at Big Brothers, Big Sisters commit to meeting with their matched youth at least three to four times a month over at least an 18-month time period. Each volunteer must pass a background check and participate in training specifically designed to help them deal with the challenges of helping these youth transition back into the community. They also receive continuing guidance, training, and resources.

“I was matched last August with a 17-year-old and have experienced positive experiences together—laughing, car dancing at red lights, singing at the top of our lungs, watching movies, and just talking. After several months, she texted me asking for help. This was significant because it meant she could trust and depend on me. Now, she just calls me for fun. She definitely brings me joy, and I feel like our relationship is bringing her joy as well,” said Caresse, a Big Sister.

Since Big Brothers, Big Sisters established the Second Chance program in 2010, it has supported more than 43 youth from throughout the Portland Metro area. The program is seeing big improvements in those children in terms of social confidence (up 67 percent), scholastic competence (up 100 percent), educational expectations (up 100 percent), grades (up 50 percent), and parental trust (maintained or up 83 percent).

Second Chance mentors include adults previously involved in the justice system, educators, lawyers, police officers, members of the faith-based community, and others who have a passion for working with older at-risk youth.

Media may download a high resolution image at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/partnerships_and_outreach/community_outreach/dcla/2013/portland.