m e r r i m a c k v a l l e y m a g a z i n e March | April 2020
text and photos by Deborah A. Venuti
When Nathan Timm was 9 years old, he and his twin brother, Nick, were recommended to be matched with mentors from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lowell (now Mill City Mentors). Their living situation at the time, according to Nate, was “not the best.” Originally from the Lowell-Dracut area, the boys lacked positive male role models. They often went without food or proper clothing. Nate was matched with a big brother named Tim, who saw the void at home and strove to fill in the gaps in his life. Tim helped provide clothes and food. He made sure the brothers had lunch money for school and introduced them to his own family. He spent time with them, took them places and encouraged them to be their best.
Eventually, the lives of the two brothers improved. A family friend took them into her home. With the support of Tim and his family, the boys completed high school and were accepted into colleges. Nate graduated from Fitchburg State University in 2014 with a degree in business management and is currently a systems analyst. Nick graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology in 2015 with a degree in mechanical engineering, and Southern New Hampshire University in 2018 with an MBA.
Mill City Mentors (MCM) is a mentoring program of Community Teamwork in Lowell. Formerly known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lowell, th e nonprofit organization was rebranded last year. It is designed to assist youths in 17 Greater Lowell communities: Ashby, Ayer, Billerica, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton , Lowell, Pelham , Pepperell, Shirley, Tewksbury, Townsend, Tyngsboro and Westford.
MCM serves about 40 families a year and focuses on children and young adults ages 7 to 22. These individuals are at-risk, facing adversity and in need of support. They often have behavioral issues or are homeless. They can be referred to the program by families, support agencies, school principals or guidance counselors. Recently, MCM has begun moving from traditional referrals to site-based school programs. This change allows mentors to be accessible on-site once a week and to engage with more children of different ages and genders.
Ed Banks, the program coordinator for Mill City Mentors, joined the MCM team in May 2019. Ed connects youths with mentors, and also acts as mentor-match support. Mill City Mentors is partially funded and supported by Mass Mentoring Partnership and the United Way. In 2019, the Mass Mentoring Partnership gave MCM the opportunity to have an AmeriCorps ambassador of mentoring, Kyle Cregg, on-site. Cregg works with Banks and Bridget Quinn, the director of volunteer services, on marketing, rebranding and fundraising.
Nate, now 26, has been involved with the organization for,- 7 years and is a mentor himself. Nick is also involved with MCM and is a member of the charity golf fundraising committee. Rather than spending money on the individuals they are assisting, mentors are instead encouraged to give their time. Nate and Josh, the boy he is mentoring, go bowling, play at the arcades, take their dogs to the dog park, or just hang out at home and play video games. Nate often sees his longtime big brother, Tim, for breakfast. Josh’s mother sent mvm a photo of Tim, Nate and Josh , a legacy of support and empowerment.
Mentors are everyday people who want to have fun and make a difference in the life of a child or young adult.
For information on how to become a mentor or how to refer an individual from Greater Lowell, go to CommTeam.org/millcitymentors
or email Bridget Quinn at
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