Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region has 56 local kids waiting for adult mentors right now. The 66-year-old youth mentoring organization launched the End Their Wait campaign this week, setting a bold goal to match the 56 kids on their waitlist throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region with mentors before the end of 2021.
“Our community is still recovering from the stress and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, shared Scott Litle, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region. “As a result, we’ve seen a sharp decline in our number of applications for new Bigs since March of 2020. The tough reality is that the kids on our waitlist come from families impacted the hardest by the pandemic, and they’re falling behind their peers, quickly. The need for mentors is the most urgent we’ve ever seen. As the kids on our waitlist face another year of changes and uncertainty at school and at home, it is critical that we End Their Wait now before they fall further behind!”
Mentors are asked to commit to two to three match outings a month for a least one year, though many matches stay together much longer. The strongest matches bond over low or no cost activities, like walks in the park, game nights or cooking meals together. Kids waiting for a mentor range from 6-13 years of age, and come from a variety of backgrounds; though most come from single parent homes, or families struggling with poverty. Many are working to overcome academic challenges, experiences with bullying, or mental health concerns.
Prior experience is not necessary. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ staff work closely with volunteers to equip them for success. Prior to matching with a child, prospective volunteers undergo an interview and background check process to ensure the safety of everyone involved, and to help determine the best fit for a match. Mentors also receive training from match coordinators, and support throughout the match.
”What separates us from other mentoring programs is our focus on making the right match rather than just any match,” Litle stated. “Our amazing staff makes sure our Bigs and Littles are match based on shared interests and personality, and they do an excellent job of providing mentors the tools to handle any challenges or concerns that may arise throughout their match.”
The End Their Wait campaign seeks to bring in 56 new mentors by December 31st. For more information about being a Big, or to get started, visit endtheirwait.com. You can also contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region at 844.4BE.ABIG, or firstname.lastname@example.org.