Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Big Brothers/Big Sisters Makes a Difference For Local Youth

Organization In Need of Volunteers 
Debbie Mollette with her little brother, Antonio

By Hannah Condon

Do you want an excuse to act like a kid and make new friends? Do you like helping out children who need a mentor or just a friend? Big Brothers/Big Sisters is the organization you are looking for.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters is a nonprofit organization, whose mission is to help youth become confident, competent, caring adults through a professionally supported relations with a responsible adult.

Big Brothers was founded in Cincinnati in the early 1900’s by a small business owner, Irvin Westheimer. He came up with the idea when he noticed that there were boys in Over the Rhine that needed mentoring. Seventy years later Big Sisters was born to give girls the same opportunities.


The Westhiemer family is still involved today with Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

There is always a constant need for volunteers to be matched with kids who are not only looking for a mentor, but a friend. Sadly the organization has to turn away kids because they do not have enough volunteers.

If you want to become a volunteer there are two ways you can volunteer, which were designed to fit the volunteer’s needs to help manage efficient time with their little brother or little sister.

One is a "community based volunteer" and the other is "site based volunteer."  Being community based is a traditional mentor when you pick up your little brother or sister at their house and take them to fun activities such as the Reds game or a movie. Being community based is one of the largest aspects that serve around 1200-1300 volunteers.

Site based is a newer option. With site based volunteers they set up a specific date and plans with their little brother or sister. It is more of a one on one approach. Activities for site base include going to their school to have lunch with them or helping with homework. This is a good choice for volunteers who may work during the day and can only do specific times.

Diane Beach is a volunteer for the site base, “With all of my kids in school during the day, it was a good fit for my schedule and I was happy to be able to help another child from different circumstances than my own kids.”


Beach with her little sister
With site base you have to sign an agreement with a specific site that you will be going to, which include 12 different sites in the Greater Cincinnati area including Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Indiana.

Debbie Mollette, a volunteer and the recruitment chair for Big Brothers/Big Sisters has been with this organization for over 17 years. She not only does the recruitment side but she has also been a Big Sister to her little brother Antonio. Though Antonio is now over 18 and is out of the program they still keep in contact.

“In order to become a volunteer you must go through an intense interview which includes references, criminal background checks, and must have a valid driver license.” said Mollette. All volunteers must have a 1-year commitment but volunteers can expand that year if they please.

When Mollette started working for Big Brothers/Big Sisters she wasn’t sure if she should volunteer. It is not required for employees; it was more of a personal choice. She felt like she had the time, the desire, and lifestyle.

“If I can talk the talk, then might as well walk the walk,” said Mollette.

Mollette was observing at an event for children who were on the waiting list and one of her friends asked her to help out with a little boy named, Antonio. She walked him to the restrooms and made sure he knew she wasn’t leaving. Immediately after they returned to the event he walked right up to the person who brought him to the event and said, “I want her as my big sister.” This was a unique situation for Mollette because Antonio chose her.

There are many challenges working and volunteering for organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Seeing children in the site based program on waiting list and having them ask, “Ms. Debbie, when is it my turn?” This happens to Mollette year after year, as she tries her best to make the perfect match for volunteer and child.

One of the most rewarding experiences is when a former little brother or sister comes in as an adult to Mollette to tell her how this experience has changed their life.

Because Big Brothers/Big Sisters is a nonprofit organization they have many fund raising events each year.  Splash and Blast 5K Run/Walk will take place on August 15, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. If you loved playing in the sprinkler as a kid this is the 5K for you! It starts at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and form there you will wet and wild in water gun brigade, the street of sprinklers and the rain lane. All proceeds will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters. For more information contact Big Brothers/Big Sisters at www.bigsforkids.org.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters is an organization solely to help and grow kids through life experiences that they typically might not have. It’s all about seeing your chosen little brother or sister grow and learn.
 “I definitely recommend anyone that can spare an hour a week to look into this program. Makes a big difference for a child!” said Beach.

If you want more information on how to volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters or to see the upcoming events please go to the website bigsforkids.org or contact Debbie Mollette at (513)-421-4120 ext. 815 or at mollette@bigsforkids.org.


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