Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas (KSBBBS) is looking for more volunteers in Cowley County.
The group’s focus is to provide positive role models and mentors for children.
“We currently have (more than) 80 kids in Cowley County,” said Debi Clark, development manager for KSBBBS.
There are several types of volunteer programs and one fun way to help to raise money for the organization.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national organization whose mission is to “provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever,” according to its website.
The No. 1 vision of the organization is to see that all children succeed.
KSBBBS partners with parents, guardians, volunteer and community members to ensure its vision is met.
It is through the mentoring programs that Big Brothers and Big Sisters help to foster higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships within their Little Brothers and Little Sisters.
Through those relationships, they are able to help the children to learn how to avoid risky behaviors and find success in their educations.
Volunteers of KSBBBS must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
There is a one-year requirement for all volunteers.
This requirement is due to studies that have shown matches that last less than a year can do more damage than good for the child involved.
“All volunteers must complete an information session, which introduces them to options in the program and takes 30 minutes,” Clark said.
After that, the potential volunteer has to fill out an application, provide references and a preference sheet, and complete background checks.
Those who volunteer have three types of programs from which to choose.
The first is Community Based. To be in this program, the volunteer must have valid a driver’s license and insurance.
Interaction with the match is for a minimum of two times a month, for two to four hours each visit.
The second type of program is a Plus Match, which meets weekly for 30 minutes to an hour.
To be in this program, a volunteer also must have a valid driver’s license and insurance.
Both of these matches can do activities together in the community or at the volunteer’s house.
The third type of program is Site Based. These volunteers only meet at school for 30 minutes to an hour a week.
These matches usually meet over lunch or recess time, but KSBBBS can work with other times.
Big Brother Mayo
Big Brothers and Big Sisters come from every walk of life.
Several Arkansas City Police Department employees volunteer with KSBBBS.
Officer Matt Mayo is one of those volunteers.
“Once a week, I go to Adams School for 30 minutes during the school day and meet with (my Little Brother),” Mayo said.
The duo spends that time doing many things. “We have played games, built things with Legos and colored,” he said.
When asked what the most important part of his involvement was, Mayo didn’t hesitate.
“Getting to know him and hanging out with him,” he said. “Just being a positive influence.”
Requirements for Littles
The Little Brothers and Little Sisters involved in the program must be at least 5 years old, but can be up to the age of 17.
Parents and guardians must want to participate in the program, as well as the child.
An application is required by all parents and guardians.
Two-parent families also must provide an outside referral showing need from a teacher, counselor or minister.
Bowl for Kids Sake
This year marks the 24th annual campaign of Bowl for Kids Sake in Cowley County.
Individuals can participate in three ways — by donating directly to the organization, making a pledge for an existing team member or creating a bowling team for the event.
To register a team, visit www.4kidsake.org.
“March 4, there will be … sessions at 1 and 2:30 p.m., which can’t be designated on the site, so email me the time you wish or once I see you have registered,” Clark said.
This fundraiser is held at Hillcrest Lanes Bowling Alley, located at 2400 N. Summit St.
Those interested in becoming involved with KSBBBS can start the process very simply.
“They can get started by visiting our website at www.kansasbigs.org, (calling) me at (620) 221-7766 or (sending) email,” Clark said.
Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters office in Cowley county is located in Winfield.
“Our office is located on the third floor of RCB Bank in Winfield, on the corner of Ninth and Main — 103 E. Ninth (Ave.) Suite 316,” Clark said.