WILMINGTON — After a year in Holmes Elementary, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Warren and Clinton Counties will expand services to Denver Place Elementary, thanks to a $10,000 grant from a government entity.
The money will help Big Brothers Big Sisters increase the number of “big-little” mentoring matches at Holmes and start a similar program at Denver Place, according to Tammy Stebelton, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Warren and Clinton Counties.
“It’s a really rewarding program not only for the children that they serve, but also the volunteers as well,” Stebelton said. “We’re very excited to be able to expand our services to Clinton County.”
The grant was provided by Mental Health Recovery Services of Warren and Clinton Counties, which receives local and state tax funding. The grant doesn’t automatically renew, Stebelton said, so BBBS will look for supplemental funding and other sources of funding.
Stebelton said Big Brothers Big Sisters matches children with mentors who develop a relationship with the student.
“It is about building a positive and supporting friendship,” said Stebelton, adding that children with more developmental assets, like these partnerships, are more likely to succeed.
“The main purpose of the program is to provide friendship, encouragement and a positive role model,” said Brook McCoy, Holmes’ counselor. “We promote positive social interactions and behavior. The idea is to help improve self-confidence and the ability to problem solve and to strengthen positive relationships within the community.”
McCoy said research indicates that students who spend time with a positive adult have better performance, peer relationships and attendance.
“We’ve seen some significant improvement, and I know that the kids that are in our building absolutely love the program,” McCoy said.
Because of a lack of mentors, several students are on a waiting list to participate in the program, according to McCoy.
Stebelton said the goal is to have 10 partnerships at each school to “help children gain confidence, have better relationships and see some more success.”
BBBS staff supervise the regular mentorship visits and games and other activities are available.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is also looking for volunteers for the mentoring program at both schools.
Those interested in volunteering should call the Lebanon office of BBBS at 513-932-3966 or visit online at www.bbbswc.org.
High school and college students as well as non-student adults can volunteer. A background check is done by BBBS, but the initial application only asks for basic information, according to Stebelton.
Volunteers must be able to commit to the program day and time for the full school year.
Holmes mentors meet currently on Mondays from 4 to 5 p.m. and about five more volunteers are needed there. Denver Place will meet on Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. beginning in December.
“We’re always looking to increase our services in both counties,” Stebelton said. “And we feel that adding our school-based mentoring program is a good way of doing that.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.