61 Jackson County Kids Need a Mentor — Can You Give the Gift of Your Time?

Tracy Stengel

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As you check off your holiday gift list, keep in mind the most precious present you could give a child is your presence. Right now, 61 children are waiting for Big Brother Big Sister of Jackson County to match them with a mentor. Could you be one of the people to make a difference in the life of a child?

Big brothers and sisters, “Bigs,” are primarily friends to their “Littles.” They are adults who want to make a positive impact on kids by creating memories and “teaching moments“ by doing everyday activities together. Volunteering doesn’t have to mean taking your Little on expensive excursions or lavishing them with pricy material items. The most valuable thing you can give is your time.

Big Brother Big Sister of Jackson County offers two different programs for mentors. They are equally important. For both, the mentors and mentees will have a relationship for at least a year, but hopefully for a lifetime.

Community Based Mentoring — Mentors will spend at least one hour a week or 4 hours a month with their mentee. Bigs and Littles will schedule their own activities within the community. Maybe they will go fishing, take a hike, play a game of hoops, or just sit and talk. It’s up to them! Some of the Littles may be in the COPE (Children of Promise Excel) program, which is for kids who have an incarcerated parent.

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Site Based Mentoring — The mentor will meet with the mentee at school during the lunch period once a week. They can eat together, play games, work on homework, or just hang out. Mentors can choose to add elements of the Community Based program if they’d like. For instance, they could take their Little to lunch off school campus or attend a local Big Brother Big Sister event with their Little out of school hours.

If you would like to become a Big, the first thing you should do is visit or call Big Brother Big Sister of Jackson County and get more information. They are located at 536 N. Jackson Street, Jackson, Michigan. Their office is open Monday — Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM and Friday from 8:30 AM — noon. Their phone number is (517) 784–7181.

Next, fill out a volunteer application online. It asks for basic information and references. After that, comes the volunteer interview. This gives them an opportunity to learn more about you and get a feel for your personality which will help them find a good Little for you.

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Then, there is a home visit and training. You will be able to meet your case manager and express your questions and concerns. You will be trained to be a mentor by a professional staff member. Big Brother Big Sister does a thorough background check on all potential volunteers.

If you make it through the process, now comes the fun part! You will be presented with potential Littles. After you choose the one you think will be the best match, you will meet your Little!

Volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Jackson County can be very rewarding for Bigs and Littles alike. The gift of time you give a child will return to you tenfold through magical memories, mutual learning, and laughter.

If you’ve been a Big or a Little, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments!

#holidayjoy

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI
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