Big Brothers Big Sisters of Windham County is making a special effort to recruit new volunteers this spring, especially male volunteers. “Most, though not all of the 60 children on our waiting list are boys,” explained Kimberley Diemond, Youth Services Director of Mentoring.
This fact doesn’t surprise Diemond, who had worked with volunteers in her own nonprofit before joining Youth Services over a year ago. “Less men volunteer their time and close to 75% of all of our mentees or “Littles”, as they are know, come from single parent households,” she explained. “We have some fantastic male mentors but we need more of them!”
According to Diemond the other parent is often not part of the picture in these children’s lives, some due to incarceration, others from death, separation or irrevocable differences with the custodial parent. “We have a number of single parents who are home bound due to health issues and having another adult who can attend their children’s sports games or do physically active activities with them has been a lifesaver on many levels,” Diemond stated.
National research demonstrates that “mentoring”—pairing a caring adult volunteer with a young person for a mutually rewarding friendship—is an effective method of addressing all sorts of youth-related issues, from combating drug and alcohol use and violence to getting along better with their families and peers.
The children on the wait list for a mentor are boys or girls between the ages of 5 and 15. Big Brothers Big Sisters offers two flexible options for volunteers who want to mentor a child. The school-based program offers volunteers the opportunity to visit with a child during lunch or recess at least once a week, in either Marlboro, Bellows Falls or Brattleboro. This option is for people who prefer the structure of meeting on their lunch hour at the child’s school. The community-based program, in contrast, allows volunteers to meet with a child during their own time and play sports, take a walk or just hang out for at least 4 hours a month.
For information on volunteering, call Big Brothers Big Sisters at (802) 257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org/bbbs.