GM Newspapers Bowl For Big Brothers Big Sisters

March 21, 2011

Bowled over by the idea of helping the community, staff members of Greater Media Newspapers enthusiastically came together for the 29th annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake to benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth & Middlesex Counties (BBBSMMC) on March 6, 2011, at the Brunswick Zone in Hazlet, NJ.

Linda Vinci, Joan Fruchter, Jeff Messeroll, Jill Rice, Tony Naturale, Carol Madison, Tino Abbate, Meredith Reccoppa, Diane Thompson, Toni Smith, Barbara Benko, and Jennifer Amato represented GForce and The Hurricanes, with dozens of other employees and family members present to cheer on the bowlers.

“This was our company’s second Day of Greater Good this year, where we have reached out to a local organization to help in any way we could,” said News Editor Adele Young. The newspaper group was acting on the suggestion of parent company Greater Media, Inc. that each of its radio and publishing markets in Boston, Charlotte, Detroit, New Jersey, and Philadelphia organize several days of volunteer service this year in the communities they serve.

“I think this event was very important for morale,” Vinci, Human Resources manager, said. “Even though we work in different departments, we’re here together as a group, and it’s great. I never thought so many people would come as spectators. I’m extremely thankful for everyone coming.”

The mission of BBBSMMC, for the past 32 years, has been to make a positive difference in the lives of at-risk children through professionally supported, primarily one-to-one mentoring relationships with a caring adult, and to assist the children in achieving their highest potential as they grow to become confident, competent, and caring individuals, according to the agency’s website.

Statistics regarding youth evaluation, provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters, show that 73 percent of kids feel they get along better with friends, 82 percent were more interested in school, and 100 percent thought their desire to learn had increased because of Big Brother Big Sister mentoring partnerships.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters is so important because our mentors that volunteer their time to spend with the children really make a huge impact on their lives for the better. … They show them a positive path in life … and it’s changing families, making schools better, and making the community better as a whole,” said Marybeth Bull, director of development for BBBSMMC. “Big Brothers and Big Sisters and their ‘Littles’ develop a very close friendship, and we often hear that the mentors get even more out of it because they can see things through the eyes of a child again.”

Greater Media Newspapers got involved through Sandi Mangino, who is the director of community-based programs with BBBSMC, and Greater Media Newspapers’ IT Manager Jeff Messeroll. Mangino has been involved with the bowling event for the past seven years, and said the organization is very appreciative of the number of people raising money for the cause.

“We can’t operate, our programs can’t have children mentored, without people who bring in money for us,” Mangino said, crediting the “Bigs” even more for their hard work. “Our volunteers are already taking time out of their daily busy schedules to see their Little Sister or Brother four hours each month. When they raise money for us, it goes above and beyond their commitment to the mission.”

With more than 150 “Bigs” involved in the program, Mangino said positive adults are necessary to a child’s development, especially since many “Littles” are missing role models or may be exposed to disadvantageous circumstances.

“They need another person to support them, to cheerlead them, to praise them, to give them one-on-one attention,” she said. “They could all use some form of positive involvement.”

Kai Messeroll, 7, was responsible for the GForce logo one Greater Media team wore. He chose the name because “ ‘GForce’ is my favorite movie and because I have a hamster,” he said.

“I’ve never done this good. I usually get gutters all the time,” Kai said, jumping up and down every time his ball knocked down the pins. “It’s fun and kind of hard, but it’s easy to get the ball down [the lane.]”

Kai’s pop-pop, Fred Mangino, is an avid bowler and came to support GForce as well. Kai said his grandfather bowls with him at birthday parties and other events, so this was a fun afternoon for them.

“It feels really great [to be with family],” Kai said. “It’s the best opportunity of my life.”

Advertising consultant Carol Madison had a different sort of great opportunity — the chance to be coached by her husband, Gary, a former men’s league bowler. She credited him with her constant strikes and spares, leading up to a score of 174 in the first game.

“I wanted to help the cause since the organization helps children,” she said of volunteering her time on a Sunday afternoon outside of the office. “This is the best group of people to work with and to play with.”

To join this chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, a “Big” must be at least 21 years old and a Monmouth or Middlesex County resident who can spend one-on-one time with their “Little” for at least four to eight hours each month for a year.

Joe Aucello, 50, of the Morganville section of Marlboro, got involved in October because his two children are grown and he wanted to give back to the community.

Aucello’s “Little,” Steven, is a shortstop and catcher for his baseball team and a small forward for his basketball team, so the two of them spend a lot of time playing ball or going to high school football games and Rutgers University games and to the movies.

“I don’t have a dad, so he’s like a second dad to me,” the 11-year-old said.

Aucello said he loves spending eight to 10 hours a month with Steven because he’s trying to be a positive role model for him.

“I have a lot of satisfaction. I enjoy it as much as he does,” Aucello said. “Growing up, I always had coaches. I played sports my whole life, and I always had people who gave back to me and donated their time. I still remember them.”

Pervin Nurhan, 25, of Matawan, NJ, has been friends with her “Little” Alexis for almost two years. They paint pottery and make jewelry in Red Bank, bake a lot at Nurhan’s house and go dancing.

Nurhan, a teacher, wanted to do this her whole life. She said she relied on her sister for a long time because their parents were Turkish immigrants “busy building the American life,” so she needed the support of her sister to push her in the right direction.

In the same vein, she has seen Alexis “change shape” and do better in school, talking more positively and understanding the difference between right and wrong.

The 15-year-old agreed, especially since she has dreams of becoming a hairstylist and fashion designer.

“I feel like I have someone to talk to. Before I didn’t, and I held everything in,” Alexis said. “She put me on a good path toward what I want my future to be.”

To raise awareness and funding, BBBSMMC also holds food and wine, casino and beach volleyball nights, as well as an annual gala.

“First and foremost, we always need Big Brothers and Big Sisters,” Bull said.

During Bowl for Kids’ Sake, Greater Media Newspaper employees contributed $1,000 to the $7,000 raised at the Sea Girt and Hazlet lanes on March 6.

BBBSMMC is located in the Crystal Brook Professional Building, 174 Main St., Eatontown, NJ. For more information, call 732-544-2224, visit www.bbbsmonmouth.org, or email smangino@bbbsmonmouth.org.