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In upcoming issues of The News-Democrat, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Carroll County will profile the adults who serve as mentors to 34 children in this county.
Our goal in these profiles is to make clear that almost anyone with a willing bone can join the rewarding work of mentoring.
So what do we do with our kids?
The first step for most mentors is to begin a school-based relationship. This arrangement calls for a weekly lunch meeting with a child. The better part of cafeteria mentoring is answering a lot of “Guess what?” inquiries. By and by, a Little (or a neighbor) will share pieces of her life by telling stories. But be warned. The lunch table is a democracy, so the kids across the table have stories to tell, too. Get ready for some whoppers.
The real magic in the school-based friendship is the consistency of visits and the undivided attention of an adult. Some Bigs bring books to the table. Others quietly slip a piece of candy to a Little at the crowded table just to show a little preferential treatment.
One of our Bigs updates his Little on the previous night’s late results from the wrestling world. Some stay and read to a Little if the schedule allows. Mostly, Littles walk into a cafeteria and see an adult who has entered the crowded room to see one person. Him. Or her. It is big.
With community-based relationships, the children are able to travel with their mentors. The opportunities here are endless. Some Bigs take the cultural route and get the Littles to museums and shows. Since through BBBS we have free movie passes to the Madison 6 Theatre, every children’s movie is a reason to plan an afternoon out. The basics of fishing, basketball and parks are always on the table. It is common among community-based friendships to share a meal at the home of the Big. One Big Sister has her Little Sister completely involved in the meal.
At our home we have extracted Legos, Lincoln Logs and old movies from the attic for modern fun. Candy Land is still a hit with kids, as is any simple craft. The two brothers who call me Big Brother are keen on our milkshake routine at Cooper’s, basketball and time with our dogs. My wife’s Little Sister likes to paint. All of our Littles know fun when they see it, so one need only suggest a few options to find the trail to the next adventure.
The simple work of BBBS is crafting a friendship with a child through ordinary lunches and ordinary afternoons. BBBS truly is ordinary adults meeting ordinary kids, but what occurs is a friendship they will carry far beyond a program. Consider joining us. Contact us at (502) 662-0888.
The Rev. Dr. Chris White is board chairman for Carroll County Big Brothers/Big Sisters.