Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 6, 2013

Agency seeks more 'bigs'

Mike James
The Independent

ASHLAND — Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State is always looking for volunteer mentors for area children who need adult guidance, said case manager Lee McCloud.

The organization has two programs, school-based and community-based, and doesn’t have as many community-based volunteers as it would like, McCloud said.

It differs from the school-based program in that volunteers commit time in evenings and weekends.

Volunteers, or bigs, as they are affectionately labeled, commit to at least a year with their littles, but many find the program, and the friendship it engenders, so rewarding they stick with their little all the way through school.

Community-based volunteers have to be at least 19, have a vehicle and license and be willing to undergo a background check. The organization also conducts interviews with both bigs and littles, and tries to match them according to their interests.

Outings can be as simple as a walk in the park, and some opt for dining out, going to movies or playing games and sports. The organization sponsors several activities per year, such as bowling parties, field trips and pool parties. If there are fees for these activities, the organization pays for the littles and the charges for bigs typically is minimal, McCloud said.

Volunteers aren’t required to spend money on their littles and in fact, the organization specifically discourages buying expensive gifts.

The local chapter has a waiting list of potential littles, McCloud said. But even if volunteers were found for all of them, schools and social service agencies could easily find as many more, she said.

MIKEā€ˆJAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.