Under the auspices of Big Brothers Big Sisters, caring adults have been helping youngsters make a successful transition to adulthood for nearly 90 years.
The program works. When little brothers and sisters are paired with the right mentor, they are far less-likely to use illegal drugs or alcohol, are more motivated in their school work and have developed stronger relationships with friends and families.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Alleghenies, an affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, pairs about 100 youngsters and adults each year. However, about 50 more children between the ages of 6 and 16 are still waiting.
So the local organization has scheduled three events this year at which it hopes to recruit men and women to be mentors. The first one is Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. at Lowe’s Home Improvement in LaVale. The others are set for November.
BBBS will have representatives on hand to provide applications and answer questions from adults who are interested.
Mentors must be 18 years or older and successfully complete the application and screening process. The screening process includes extensive employment, child abuse and criminal background checks. Applicants are required to submit three personal references. The screening and interview process takes approximately two weeks to be completed.
An effort is made to pair adults and children who have similar interests. Mentors are asked to commit to a full year and are encouraged to meet with the child two or more times a month. Couples and entire families can serve as mentors.
BBBS says the difference such a relationship can make in the life of a child is significant.
If you are interested in mentoring or in assisting the program financially (it takes about $100,000 a year to keep it going locally), attend Sunday’s event at Lowe’s in LaVale, contact BBBS at www.bigdifference.org or call 301-724-2742.