Steve Gelatko believes every child deserves the chance to develop themselves to their full potential. Steve, our director-Distribution Asset Planning, has the opportunity to fulfill that belief as a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley.

The mission of the agency is to provide children facing adversity with strong, lasting, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships that positively change their lives.

Steve joined the board in 2014 and currently serves as board secretary. In addition, he is a member of the agency’s executive board and lead of the facilities subcommittee and the fund development team.

This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley will receive the Gold Standard Pinnacle Award, which recognizes the top tier of outstanding all-around performance Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies. To achieve the award, an agency must surpass several key national metrics each year over a two-year period. In 2015, only five of 326 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies achieved this standard of excellence.

We spoke with Steve about his role and PPL’s support of the agency’s signature event, Bowl for Kids’ Sake, on March 5.

How did you get involved with the agency?

I attended a fundraising event where the organization asked some of the “Littles” (the nickname for children in the program) to tell the audience about the impact the organization had on them. They told stories from the heart that described how the organization and their “Bigs,” as volunteer mentors are called, changed their lives. I was very impressed with the impact and knew it was an organization I could fully support. I approached PPL about seeking opportunities to get more involved in the community, and when I saw Big Brothers Big Sisters was looking for support I jumped right in.

Have you always had a passion for working for an agency that deals with children?

What I find most fulfilling is knowing that Big Brothers Big Sisters is reaching children in need and providing them with mentoring that very often changes the direction of their entire life. Many of these children find themselves in challenging situations that they couldn’t avoid. I believe every child deserves the opportunity to develop themselves to their full potential. The professional mentoring offered by Big Brothers Big Sisters helps make that happen.

What is the most fulfilling part about being a board member?

My favorite part is hearing Littles tell in their own words what their relationship with their Big has meant to them personally. When they speak, I see clear examples of the mission of the organization becoming reality — one child, one life at a time.

The Bowl for Kids’ Sake event is coming up. Why is it important that PPL help sponsor this event? What is the money used for?

Bowl for Kids’ Sake is the single largest funding source for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley. PPL has been a long-time supporter of this event, and our participation has been very impactful to the organization fulfilling its mission.

Participation in events like Bowl for Kids’ Sake reinforces PPL’s values around volunteerism and support for organizations that improve the quality of life in our communities.

It costs about $1,500 to match a Little to a Big. As the organization has increased funding, it has expanded its impact on our community.

What would you say to someone who was interested in becoming a volunteer at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lehigh Valley?

I would encourage them to go to the organization’s web page and read more about the mission of the organization and read through the FAQs about what it would mean to be a mentor. The demand for mentors is very strong, especially for males. In the Lehigh Valley alone, there are well over 100 children on a waiting list looking to be matched up with a Big.

We do see many mentors in the program who were Littles earlier in life. That’s a strong indicator that these volunteers feel strongly about the positive impact the program can bring.

What type of skills or abilities do you need to become a volunteer?

No special skills are needed to be a mentor. The organization looks for stable, positive people to match up with Littles. If you have any questions regarding the process of becoming a Big, or would like to apply, please contact bbbs@bbbslv.org.

Also, if you’d like to know more about the Bowl for Kids’ Sake event, you can learn more here.