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GO KIDS Articles

BBBS seeking 100 mentors

By Judith McGinnis
Wichita Falls Times Record News
Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Big Brothers Big Sisters now has an office in Wichita Falls and its new regional executive director, Kem Hogue, isn't even waiting for furniture to be moved in.

With the clock ticking on a jump start of matching grant money - $44,000 - she and BBBS organizers must recruit 100 mentors to make 100 matches before the Aug. 15 deadline.

"We've had such a positive response from the community about BBBS we feel there are enough volunteers and children whose families are interested to meet the challenge," said Hogue. "We do need to get mentors signed up as soon as possible though to get them through the screening and interview process before matching them with a child."

Two community interest meetings are planned for May 6, one at noon and another at 5:30 p.m. at the Wichita Falls ISD Education Center, 1104 Broad. Anyone considering becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister is encouraged to attend.

BBBS is looking for mentors of all ages, from older high-school students to college students, empty-nesters and seniors, Hogue explained. Screening includes thorough background checks followed by interviews and training.

Mentors, known as "Bigs," are expected to spend six to eight hours per month with their "Littles" in two or four meetings.

"As the friendship develops, most people spend more time with their Littles," said Janet Ardoyno, BBBS North Texas vice president of agency development. "We encourage people not to spend a lot of money in this process. The greatest gift they can give these children is support and opportunities to broaden their horizons and see the future through different eyes."

Because WFISD's Partners In Education program coordinates on-campus mentors for students, working through BBBS, P.I.E. volunteers will now be able to see their child outside of school. BBBS carries liability insurance P.I.E. does not.

"We feel like this was a real enhancement for some of the mentors we currently have," said Nancy Marks, P.I.E. director. "Our mentors will go through the same screening and applications as all other BBBS mentors."

BBBS hopes to also find local volunteers for its faith-based Amachi program, designed to match children who have a parent in prison with a mentor.

"There is also an offer of $100,000 in grant money to build a special program to match children of deployed military personnel," said Ardoyno. "This would be a great way to support our military, by offering that extra friend to a child who needs one."

Anyone interested in becoming a BBBS volunteer may attend either of the May 6 meetings; call Hogue at (940) 767-2447 or go to www.bbbs.org for more information.

"If someone has time to give but doesn't feel they're ready for mentoring, we will also need volunteers here in the office too," said Hogue.