Right now there are more than 200 children waiting to be matched to an adult volunteer through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley – 70 percent of them are boys.
BBBS in partnership with the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation and KWQC has kicked off a community awareness and volunteer recruitment campaign called “100 Days / 100 Bigs” to recruit a minimum of 100 volunteers in the community.
“The bottom line is, we need more volunteers,” says Jay Justin, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley. “It’s heartbreaking to know that over 200 children want to be matched with an adult mentor, and they have to wait. We need the community’s help, and especially need a lot of men to step forward.”
“Knowing that 200 children in our community are waiting to have an adult mentor was a huge motivation for the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation to back this effort,” says Dale Owen, CEO of Ascentra Credit Union.
The community need is much higher than the 200 children currently approved within the program. One in three children in the QCA reside within a single parent household. Many children residing within this type of family structure lack consistent and positive adult influences. “There is a developmental gap for many children in our community,” states Justin, “and our mentoring platforms are a fun and rewarding way of filling that gap and producing results: a motivated child achieving academic and social success.”
The Ascentra Credit Union Foundation has committed a generous grant for a total of $22,500 for the next three years to support Big Brothers Big Sisters for their volunteer recruitment program. The program includes the community effort, 100 Days / 100 Bigs, as well as a program called Recruit One which encourages existing Big Brothers and Big Sisters to each find just one potential volunteer a year. BBBS also works with area businesses and community organizations in scheduling “Lunch and Learns” for their employees/members to hear about the need for mentors and the rewards of becoming a “Big” to a child who is facing adversity.
“Our credit union foundation really revolves around making unique and meaningful change in the communities we serve. Research shows the positive impact Big Brothers Big Sisters has on those who participate, but most importantly they foster positive relationships that set the children involved towards a path to succeed,” says Owen.
Research and surveys conducted by the BBBS show that 90 percent of former “Littles” have stated that a mentor provided stability in their lives. Teachers who have “Littles” in their classroom report that those children in the past year, who are mentored by a “Big”, have improved in their self-confidence by 68 percent.
It only takes two to three visits a month to be either a School-Based Mentor or a Community-Based Mentor. Sarah Walker, BBBS Senior Vice President of Enrollment and Community Partnerships explains, “A School-Based ‘Big’ will meet their ‘Little’ at school over the child’s lunch period. Usually they meet in a library, conference room or another place where they can play a game, read a book, or just talk,” said Walker. “We require two hours a month for this type of ‘Match’.”
The Community-Based program allows the “Big” to pick their “Little” up at their home (after making arrangements with the parent or guardian) and do things out in the community. It could be going to a movie, taking a hike, riding bikes, seeing a ballgame, getting a bite to eat – some kind of activity that both the Big and the Little enjoy doing together. The minimum time commitment for this type of Match is six hours a month which is usually fulfilled by meeting a couple of times a month.
To find out more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister go to www.bbbsmv.org/volunteer or call 563-323-8006. If you would like to schedule your company for a “Lunch and Learn” contact Beth Clark at 563-323-8006 ([email protected]).