Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami Valley is asking community members to step up and volunteer to be a “big” because dozens of kids are on a waitlist for a mentor.
“Think about those folks, those mentors, those role models who made a difference in your life, who got you to where you are today personally and professionally,” said Chris Mackey, community impact and engagement manager with Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami Valley. “I am going to give you the opportunity to make a similar difference in the life of a young person.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami Valley is a nonprofit mentoring organization that serves about 400 young people in Montgomery, Miami, Greene and Preble counties.
But the demand for mentors (called “bigs”) exceed the supply, and there are 49 local young people (“littles”) who are having to wait for matches that can have a direct and meaningful impact on their futures, officials said.
Half of the kids on the local waitlist have dealt with some kind of traumatic experience in their lives, such as violence, domestic violence, bullying, substance abuse in the family or physical, emotional or sexual abuse, Mackey said.
More than a quarter of the kids on the waitlist come from households that make less than $10,000 per year, and one in 10 had or have parents who are incarcerated.
Bigs can take part in a community-based or a school-based program.
In community settings, bigs and littles take part in fun, safe and inexpensive activities, such as playing board games at the library, shooting hoops at the park or getting some ice cream, Mackey said.
Bigs also can choose to spend about an hour a week meeting with littles inside school buildings.
Big will try to help littles achieve goals that can be as simple as getting them to pick a new hobby or as ambitious as getting them to graduate school. Bigs help littles achieve academic and career goals, build confidence and improve their emotional well-being.
Littles typically are between the ages of 7 and 14 when they are matched with a big. They graduate from the program at 18.
One of the littles on the waiting list is named Donald. He’s in the 8th grade. He loves wrestling, videogames, music and going skating.
He likes football and hopes to play for the NFL one day.