100 mentors in 30 days – One “Big” project for local nonprofit

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2022

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Tryon, NC – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina launched its biggest recruitment drive of the year on May 1 – 100 mentors in 30 days. It’s working to sign up many new Polk County “Bigs” to have fun with great local kids.


The need for adult mentors is strong in all 18 westernmost counties that BBBSWNC operates in. Nearly three out of four enrolled “Littles” in the region live with a single parent or grandparents and could benefit from having an adult pal to do things with.

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“Every day, I see the tremendous impacts that support has on young people and on mentors,” said Jamye Davis, BBBSWNC executive vice president of programs. “I think one reason more adults haven’t gotten involved is the impression that it’s a huge time commitment. The reality is that we ask Bigs to share several hours two times a month with a child. We provide support, training, and group activities.”


“Our Bigs enjoy getting out and hanging out with their Little, and it’s a great opportunity for youth to expand their life experiences, whether it’s with trying a new activity like art or cooking, seeing more of their community, or going on their first hike. I love being able to see how the program helps kids to expand their world,” said Tara Scoma, program coordinator for Polk County.


Studies bear out the benefits of such “matches.” BBBSWNC’s 2021 youth outcome surveys indicate that among Littles matched with Bigs, 90 percent improved in self-confidence, 86 percent improved their behavior in school, 79 percent became better at solving problems, 75 percent attended school more regularly, and 71 percent were more eager to learn in school. 


Once vetted and trained by BBBSWNC, being a Big is no big deal. Bigs are asked to hang out with their Littles a few hours each month. School-based Bigs meet their Littles at school, talking, going over homework, and doing something fun like shooting basketball or making art. Community-based Bigs enjoy having fun out in the community, such as getting ice cream, seeing movies, visiting local museums, or just walking in the park. BBBSWNC staff also offer group events from time to time, such as guided hikes, llama walks, snow tubing, or baseball games.


Littles may lead Bigs to new adventures, as well. Bigs, supported throughout by professional BBBS staff, often say they get more out of the experience than their Littles. Some people remain good friends for life.


Littles say the experience of having a Big can be life-changing. 


“Whenever I was having a bad day, Bob would always check on me and see if I was doing OK,” former Little Brother D’Angelo said of his Big Brother. “A lot of people don’t have people who check on you daily, hope you’re doing good, and want to see you go the distance. Always having that just kept me going.”


To learn more about becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, visit bbbswnc.org or contact your local BBBS program coordinator, Tara Scoma, at 443-791-0538 or Polk@bbbswnc.org. A few hours a month can make a big difference in a child’s life. 


Submitted by Tara Scoma