Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012, and in June 2013 it acquired the Northwoods territory of Oneida, Price, Taylor and Vilas counties.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters mission is to “provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”
Mentoring has long been known to benefit children—indeed the Big Brothers Big Sisters seed was planted 100 years ago by adults mentoring children who were passing through New York Children’s Court.
The adversity for today’s “littles” includes many different situations, such as living with a single parent, or with both parents who are working long hours. It could be a child who is being bullied, or it could be a child who is the bully. It could be a child who just has trouble making or keeping friends.
“Bigs” and “littles” are matched based on similar interests. For the community-based program, they simply have fun doing things together in the community that they both enjoy. Activities could include snowshoeing, visiting the library, fishing, baking, hiking and crafts. For the school-based program, the “big” meets the “little” at school for lunch, recess or another activity.
Although mentoring has long been known to be beneficial, what’s impressive is how the Big Brothers Big Sisters one-to-one mentoring outcomes have been tracked. What the studies have determined is when children and volunteers spend an average of one hour per week for one year together, the benefits to the child include: increased self-confidence, better academic performance, more avoidance of risky behaviors, and a better likelihood of going to college.
The other side of the program equation is funding.
It costs an average of $1,000 to match and support one child for one year. This includes screening and background checks of the volunteer; interviewing the volunteer and the child; and, professional, on-going support which is the key to the outstanding success of Big Brothers Big Sisters programs.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is excited to be bringing these services to the area, but to make them a reality they need strong financial support. Big Brothers Big Sisters is 100 percent community-funded and there are several ways to give.
The fundraiser Bowl for Kids’ Sake will take place 6 p.m., Friday, April 4 at Hodag Lanes.
For it the club is looking for event sponsors to help cover expenses and support our programs, bowling teams to secure donations for programs and a few committee members to help keep the event on track.
It may surprise many to know that the Bowl for Kids’ Sake events are not about bowling. They are “thank-you parties” with food, music, contests and prizes. This year’s theme is A Bowl Through TV Land and costumes are encouraged.
For more information, to volunteer or become a sponsor, call Mary Kinnunen at 715-820-2633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.