By: Celeste Nevil
It was 1904 when a young man named Ernest Coulter, a court clerk, decided he had seen enough kids in his courtroom. In order to change this, he founded the Big Brothers movement, and later founded the Big Sisters movement, which didn’t combine until 1977. Big Brothers Big Sisters hasn’t been in the Kentuckiana area long, but has already had many NAHS students contribute to helping others by being a Big Brother or Sister.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana has been serving the area for approximately 40 years,” Match Support Specialist Nikki Green said. “The main office is located in Louisville, but we serve Harrison, Floyd and Clark County of Indiana.”
It’s not everyday that NAHS students are able to put aside their own problems in order to help another child in need, but even when the end of the grading period is just weeks away, some students can still find a time to put others first. Being a volunteer for BBBS isn’t a hard job, but students have to be willing to take time out of their busy schedules to help their Little. Although becoming a volunteer for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program can take a lot of work and time it’s a job that pays well, not in money but in a valuable kind of friendship.
“We ask that volunteers meet with their Little one hour a week,” Green said. “Volunteers are asked to spend at least 30 minutes doing something educational and the other part of the hour can be spent talking, playing board games and doing art projects [depending on the site that you are mentoring at].”
Although becoming a Big can sound like a simple process it takes a lot of work to actually become a Big. It’s a crucial process when it comes to matching the Bigs and Littles. The Bigs have to be interviewed and then Match Specialists have to match up the Big with a Little.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters matches Littles and Bigs based on their individual interested and preferences,” Green said. “If it’s a good fit for both, we schedule a day for them to both meet.”
Sophomore Samuel Bottom has been a Big Brother for two years. He volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters after school to help change lives.
“Being a Big Brother has shown me how to appreciate the little things in life,” Bottom said. “Because some people don’t have as much as I do.”
The NAHS Big Brother, Big Sister group members will soon be granted a chance to meet their Little for the first time. The Bigs here at NAHS have done a lot of hard work to make sure they meet the standards that Bigs are supposed to meet. By going through interviews and applications, they have had to work hard to get where they are today.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters recruits high school volunteers to mentor children at the elementary and middle school level,” Green said. “If the volunteers are approved to participate in our program, they are matched with a child that is in need of having an extra friend.”
Even with all the work that goes into being a Big Brother or a Big Sister it’s something any volunteer can enjoy. The Big Brothers Big Sisters program teaches students at NAHS leadership skills and unique skills that only come with the generosity of helping someone in need. It’s easy to become a Big Brother or Sister and is extremely charitable.
“Anyone who is interested in getting involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters should contact BBBS at 502-587-0494 and state that they would like to become a Big Brother or Sister. After we take some information from them, we’d schedule a time to meet with them.”
According to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana website, this program made kids more confident in their schoolwork performance, able to get along better with their families, 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol, 52 percent less likely to skip school, 37 percent less likely to skip a class and 33 percent less likely to hit someone. The students in Big Brothers Big Sisters have been a big part of this and have really helped to influence the Littles they befriend in a positive way.
“Big Brothers and Sisters get the chance to make a positive impact in the life of a child,” Green said. “And the Littles have the chance to talk with a trusted friend, have someone to listen to them, receive encouragement, and work towards education goals.”
As the Big Brothers Big Sisters program continues to grow, so do the students who are volunteering. Being a Big Brother or Big Sister is a great opportunity to help someone in need and keep Littles out of trouble. The Littles will also be able to hang around with someone they can depend on instead of bad influences. Just dedicating a few days a month for someone can help them change the way they look at the world and what they want to do with their life. With just one small act of kindness NAHS students are helping to change the world.
“It is through Big Brothers Big Sisters that we can continue to grow, support more matches, reach the most people and therefore the best opportunity to offer benefits to our community,” Big Brothers Big Sisters event planner Erin Coomer said.