Archived Story

Big Brothers Big Sisters begins Dowagiac campaign

Published 4:45pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Berrien and Cass Inc. (BBBS) has already commenced its campaign to get more “bigs” and “littles” involved in Cass County, and they have started in Dowagiac.

During the regular Dowagiac Rotary Club meeting Thursday, BBBS Executive Director Christina Frank spoke about the upcoming year of goals the organization hopes to achieve. With an 88 percent caseload increase last year, Frank said one of the major focuses for the coming year is to reach more children in Cass County, starting first with Dowagiac. District schools have already hopped on board to help parents and children find out about the opportunities, and Frank said now the “littles” — the children adults are paired with — need big brothers or sisters.

“This is a friendship that adults and children are forming,” Frank said. “We want to be known in the community and be seen; we want to do our best to provide and mentor to kids.”

Frank said volunteers who decide to take on the role of “big” could choose from two programs; a lunch buddy program and a community-based program. The lunch buddy program allots one day a week for the “big” and “little” to have lunch and chat with one another. The time isn’t reserved for schoolwork or study, but more for open conversation.

“It’s a chance to share a meal, play a game, be there to talk and listen with your ‘little,’” Frank said.

The community-based program allots 10 hours per month that the volunteer and child can do activities based on their interests, such as visiting the library, taking walks and learning a hobby or skill. Each program begins at a one-year commitment, something that Frank said often spans into six years or more due to the relationships formed.

“We take the commitments very serious and we always want to ensure that each big brother or sister is going to stick with their ‘little’ for at least that year,” Frank said.

The process to be matched with a little brother or sister can take four to six weeks minimum. Volunteers must be 18 years or older, but interested people younger than 18 can contact the organization and become a part of the teen group, which plans activities.

“We’ll take any and all volunteers,” Frank said. “We won’t ever turn someone away who wants to help.”

Parents interested in the programs for children, or adults looking to volunteer, can seek information and applications at 205 Broadway St., Suite B, Niles, or call (269) 684-1100.

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