Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina launches its biggest recruitment drive of the year May 1 – 100 mentors in 30 days. It’s working to sign up many new “Bigs” to have fun with great local kids.
The need for adult mentors is strong in all 18 westernmost counties that BBBSWNC operates in. Nearly three out of four enrolled “Littles” in the region live with a single parent or grandparents and could benefit from having an adult pal to do things with.
“Every day, I see the tremendous impacts that support has on young people and on mentors,” said Jamye Davis, BBBSWNC executive vice president of programs. “I think one reason more adults haven’t gotten involved is the impression that it’s a huge time commitment. The reality is that we ask Bigs to share several hours two times a month with a child. We provide support, training, and group activities.”
Studies bear out the benefits of such “matches.” BBBSWNC’s 2021 youth outcome surveys indicate that, among Littles matched with Bigs, 90 percent improved in self-confidence, 86 percent improved their behavior in school, 79 percent became better at solving problems, 75 percent attended school more regularly, and 71 percent were more eager to learn in school.
Once vetted and trained by BBBSWNC, being a Big is no big deal. Bigs are asked to hang out with their Littles a few hours each month. School-based Bigs meet their Littles at school, talking, going over homework and doing something fun like shooting basketball or making art. Community-based Bigs meet at or take their Littles on BBBS-approved activities, such as getting ice cream, seeing movies, or just walking in the park.
Activities that BBBSWNC staff have guided matches on have included hikes, lake canoeing, picnics, llama walks, snow tubing, baseball games, and community gardening. On their own, matches take in shows, go out to eat, visit local museums and colleges, and volunteer at events, among other activities.
Littles may lead Bigs to new adventures, as well. Bigs, supported throughout by professional BBBS staff, often say they get more out of the experience than their Littles. Some people remain good friends for life.
Littles say the experience of having a Big can be life changing.
“Whenever I was having a bad day, Bob would always check on me and see if I was doing OK,” former Little Brother D’Angelo said of his Big Brother. “A lot of people don’t have people who check on you daily, hope you’re doing good and want to see you go the distance. Always having that just kept me going.”