Polk County BBBS holds ‘Bigs Night Out’

Published 3:47 pm Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Years ago, when Patty Slater was invited to join the council for the Polk branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters, she responded from a place of familiar compassion.

Her sister Wendy had been a Big Sister during college, and to this day Wendy maintains a friendship with her now-adult college-graduate Little Sister.

Patty soon became a school mentor, matched with her Little Sister when Mary was in first grade at Polk Central. So they could visit outside of school, the match eventually transitioned to a traditional community-based relationship.

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BS Patty continues visits at Polk County Middle School,where LS Mary is consistently on the honor roll. Patty also continues to serve BBBS of Polk County as chair of the local Advisory Council, and representative on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina.

Patty and husband David Slater hosted the annual &dquo;Bigs Night Out&dquo; at their Hunting Country home above Slater Turf farm. This social gathering honors volunteers serving Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Thirty Bigs, school mentors, volunteers from the governing council, spouses, friends and staff enjoyed pizza while celebrating another successful year of Big Brothers Big Sisters services for area children through two continually growing programs.

In the traditional community-based program, screened and trained adult volunteers are matched with children, ages 6-14, from single-parent families. The pair have outings in the community twice a month for activities both enjoy, such as hiking, playing games, baking, going to a play, or watching a movie.

The longer a match lasts, the greater the benefit for the child. And the adults&39; lives are enriched through the friendship established. These matches may continue until the Little graduates from high school. Even though the match officially ends at that point, the relationships may last a lifetime.

The site-based program begins with students in need of a little extra attention in local elementary schools. A school mentor is matched with a student and visits for an hour each week during the school year to help with academics or development of social skills.

In addition to the usual focus on school work, there is always a little time devoted to playing a game, reading or chatting. All participants in each program are supported by BBBS staff throughout the match.

Volunteers also serve Big Brothers Big Sisters on the Advisory Council, which guides the local organization. Prospective volunteers are encouraged to attend an information session which will be held at the Landrum Library at 6:30 pm on October 29.

Or those interested in serving as council members or Bigs may contact BBBS at the Tryon office by calling (828) 859-9230.

This branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina serves children in Polk County and Landrum, and is supported by donations from local citizens, through business sponsorships, and from grants, including funding from the Polk County Community Foundation. There are children ready to be matched from both areas, waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister. Please call now to see how you can help make a difference.