Denison Students are Peer Mentors for Local Communities through Big Brothers Big Sisters

ANNIE HARTMAN — For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that every child has the ability to succeed in life. By providing consistent one on one mentors, children are able to develop strong relationships and have a positive role model to look up to.

Denison University’s Big Brothers Big Sisters is an opportunity for students to make a difference in the lives of children that either struggle financially, emotionally due to family problems or any other hardships that qualify them for the program.

Students are interviewed and matched up with a child that is most qualified for them. They are then allowed to build strong friendships and help them with homework once a week depending on the program you’re involved in.

Petrea Coelho, the director of the program, states that, “The program gives them stability and they get that absolute one-on-one attention.” This is crucial as many of the Big Brothers Big Sisters participants are from a big family and might not get the attention they need.

Denison’s Big Brothers Big Sisters is constantly fundraising to keep the program strong. This semester, they hosted an annual fundraiser at City Barbeque in Newark. At this event, thirty five percent of each order is donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. All day, people came together to support this cause and chowed down on some delicious BBQ. This is a  positive event as every year families of the children and generous volunteers come together and support a fantastic organization.

The bonds that have been formed between Denison Students and their “littles” are remarkable and prove to positively influence both the child and Denison students’ lives.

Even if mentors don’t always realize the immediate impact they have at the time, having someone who cares enough and shows the kids that they want to hang out with them every week has a lasting impact at the bare minimum.

Gayle Waite, the head of the Mcguffey Program, had lots to say about the program and relationships being created. “Big Brothers Big Sisters provides mentors for at-risk children who need a caring friend. We hope to assist our littles in academics, self-esteem, social skills, school attendance and avoidance of risky behaviors. It is so rewarding to see our littles eyes light up when the bigs arrive. This friendship is a powerful force for guiding kids to make good decisions and choose the right path in life.”

Additionally, “bigs” frequently report a match report that lets the program know how the relationship is going. Gayle says that the outcome of the relationships have had a strongly positive impact on the “bigs” life as well.

If you’re interested in volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters, contact gibson_h1@denison.edu or hartma_a1@denison.edu to fill out an application and get matched up with your little!

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