By ABDOULLAYE DOUCOURE, NEWS3 Guest Reporter
MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3) — Big Brothers Big Sisters is new in town but not new in the country. It was founded in 1904 and has changed millions of lives. With help from generous volunteers, the program provided one-to-one mentoring relationships with general guidance, support for social emotional development, and promoting mental health and well-being of thousands of children across America.
“We create and support one-on-one mentoring with local youth,” Sarah Baca, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Macomb, said. “So what we would do is we would check with a volunteer who is interested in becoming a ‘big’ and we would match with a child in a local area. They would be a mentor to them and do various different activities.”
To many people in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, it is not just to offer guidance, but also to offer a sense of belonging and become a role model. Sarah talked about the impact the program has on the mentees.
“I’ve seen little youth in our area where their confidence has grown, their social skills became a lot better throughout this program, academics have improved as well as behaviors and their positive outlook on life has increased significantly.”
While some mentees are waiting to be matched with a mentor, BBBS social worker Rosemary pairs up with the Western Illinois University Multicultural Center social worker Ruby to organize a big for a day to get people familiar with the program.
“This event is not only for individual volunteers but also for the kids,” Ruby said. “I know some kids have shown interest in becoming part of the program but haven’t found somebody to commit to it yet, so a lot of these volunteers might be moving forward into the program. This was just a way for them to see what our program is about. It’s just a small portion of our program spending one-on-one time with the kids and this is just being a big for a day so they don’t have to commit for the 12 months, but this is something they can get familiar with so they could want to possibly move forward.”
As many kids show up, that many volunteers show up as well. Ruby said she appreciates this.
“I like the turn out that we got and to know how many students were looking forward to doing this and how activities our students are and wanting to volunteer, especially with kids, them being on the waitlist and waiting for a big,” she said. “I think this was really nice. We giving them hope, excitement, and wanting to be in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I hope a volunteer today would want to be a big.”
Some kids in Macomb are still awaiting a mentor and guidance. To learn more about the program, visit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Macomb or contact the group by calling (309) 837-5437.