|Billie Houston, with her "little," Debriana|
Billie Houston of Fort Thomas would like a word with you. She’d like to tell you to join her, to be a Big Brother or Big Sister volunteer, to help children in Fort Thomas and beyond.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati (BBBS) is urgently in need of volunteers. The agency pairs adult mentors—Big Brothers and Big Sisters--with young people in the tri-state who can benefit from a positive role model.
Houston is matched with 10-year old Debriana, who was 9 when they first met last February. Houston, who’s 56, wondered aloud whether Debriana might prefer a younger Big Sister. The little girl told her, “No, I want you. They told me all the things you like to do like sewing and crafts and those are all the things I like, too.”
BBBS says finding those kind of similar interest is one key to the success of the program, so staff members are careful to pair “Bigs” with “Littles” who start off with some things in common.
Houston says she decided to become a Big Sister “because my kids and grandkids are happy and healthy and I just wanted to pay it forward. Honestly, it’s a privilege to be in her life and I enjoy our time together as much as she does.”
The two attend many activities sponsored by BBBS, like bowling, roller skating and also enjoy stopping at yard sales they see when they’re together. Houston says, “We bought a bunch of Barbies and some fun socks and sewed the socks into clothes for the dolls. I taught Debriana how to use the sewing machine and now her friends ask her how they can get ‘designer’ clothes for their Barbies, too.”
Houston also challenges her Little Sister to think about what they can create out of their yard sale finds—recently, a box of flip flops was turned into wreaths.
Debriana got involved with BBBS when her mother called the agency hoping a Big Sister could provide some one-on-one attention, and be another positive influence in her daughter’s life. Right now, 400 other children are on a waiting list to be paired with a Big Brother or Big Sister. Many of those kids attend school at Crossroads and in Newport. Being matched with one of them would mean meeting your Little Brother or Little Sister one day a week at school.
Debbie Mollette, recruitment coordinator for BBBS—and also a Fort Thomas resident—says, “I know what a caring community this is. I hope people will recognize the need for volunteers and join forces with people like Billie, and really make a difference.”
Houston says, whether you live in Fort Thomas or any of the areas in Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati or Southeastern Indiana served by BBBS, there’s a child who could use your help. She says being a mentor makes her a better person, and adds, “Think of it as spending an hour or so a week with a friend. I take her with me to family picnics, and everybody just loves her. Debriana is a little star.”
Volunteer applications are on the agency website, www.bigsforkids.org . For more information, call 513-421-4120.