Most youngsters just want someone to talk to them, and volunteers for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization can meet that need and help local kids experience a number of events or activities for the first time, according to the director of the South Central Ohio branch of the mentoring organization.
Christy Schreick told Hillsboro Rotarians on Tuesday that there are currently 20 youngsters in Highland County on a waiting list for mentors – mostly boys, since more women volunteer as Big Sisters than do men as Big Brothers.
Schreick, who was introduced by Rotarian Tricia Collins, said it was important to correct a misconception that children in need of mentoring are “bad kids.”
“We don’t have bad kids,” she said. “We have kids in bad situations.”
Schreick said many of the youngsters in need of Big Brothers or Big Sisters come from single parent homes, with the lone parent often working, leaving little time or opportunity for children to experience simple one-on-one activities that many children enjoy with parents.
Mainly, “Kids want someone to talk to them,” she said, so they can share news about school achievements or other topics.
According to information provided by the organization, youngsters who participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters are less likely to use illegal drugs or alcohol, skip school, or engage in violent situations, and become more confident in academic performance and develop better relationships with their families.
Outcomes also include an increased rate of graduation, attending college, a trade school or joining the military, and develop “a better sense of the future.”
Schreick urged local businesses and residents to support the upcoming Bowl for Kids’ Sake, scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, May 4, at Highland Lanes in Hillsboro. One of three fundraisers held throughout each year, last year’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake raised $41,000 across the five-county region, which includes Ross, Pickaway, Pike, Fayette and Highland counties.
All programs are provided free of charge, funded through support from the Paint Valley ADAMH Board, United Way of Ross, Pickaway, Fayette and Pike counties, grants, the Bowl for Kids’ Sake event, a golf outing, a Dance for Kids’ Sake event, and other donations.
Schreick said volunteer mentors can devote 2 to 5 hours a week to their young charges, with a commitment of one year, although many mentors volunteer for several years. All volunteers are fingerprinted and screened through police and Bureau of Motor Vehicle background checks, as well as home visits.
Schreick was accompanied Tuesday by Heather Remley, a case manager with the organization.
Anyone interested in sponsoring or participating in the Bowl for Kids’ Sake event, or becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, can call 740-773-2447 or 1-800-888-6335. The Big Brothers Big Sisters regional office is located at 173 W. Second St. in Chillicothe, and can be found online at www.bbbssco.org.