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Big Brothers Big Sisters returns to Wichita Falls

By Judith McGinnis
Wichita Times Record (TX)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

After months of behind the scenes work, Big Brothers Big Sisters is ready to come back to Wichita Falls.

Efforts that began in 2007 with a core group of supporters and former volunteers are now paying off and organizers said they hope to have the first matches ready by summer.

“It’s a step-by-step process,” said Janet Ardoyno, vice president of agency development for the BBBS of North Texas. “We’ve received a positive response from local foundations and now we’re putting together the leadership that will be needed for a long-term sustainable program.”

Ardoyno, BBBS North Texas CEO T. Charles Pierson and executive board chairman Richard Kilgust were in Wichita Falls Tuesday, visiting with local funding agencies and prospective board members. Along with their official duties, all three are Big Brothers and Big Sisters themselves.

Kilgust said now that startup funding seems to be falling into place, high-quality board members are key to establishing a firm foundation for the program.

“We’re looking for people who are passionate about helping children, who believe in BBBS and can bring a strength of experience to the table,” he said.

Another vital part of the BBBS return is the link that has been forged with Partners in Education. Limited to providing “on campus only” mentors for children in Wichita Falls Independent School District, PIE has embraced the larger opportunity BBBS offers to engage students in evening and weekend activities.

“It’s a perfect match,” said Nancy Marks, PIE coordinator. “We’ve been working with Janet for a number of months, meeting with mentors and coordinators and everyone’s very excited to see BBBS return,”

BBBS will also seek volunteers for its Amachi program from the faith community; Amachi mentors children who have a parent in prison.

Getting a Wichita Falls staff situated is also high on Ardoyno’s to-do list. Currently she is accepting applications for a regional executive director, someone who will create community partnerships, promote the program and oversee fundraising.

A program “generalist” will also be needed to interview volunteers and children, write assessments and conduct match interviews.

For more information on becoming a BBBS volunteer, board member or staff positions, contact Ardoyno at (325) 660-8520, or