Big Brothers Big Sisters seeking 60 mentors for Central High students
Friday, October 5, 2012
In an effort to match more students with mentors, the Cape Girardeau chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is seeking to match 60 students from Central High School with mentors from now until the end of the year.
Ashley Beggs, executive director of Cape Girardeau Big Brothers Big Sisters, said the organization depends on volunteers who want to become mentors.
"We think our goal of matching 60 kids with 60 mentors by the end of the year is something that can be done," Beggs said. "We know that once the call goes out, we'll be hearing from volunteers who will hopefully have a passion to become involved in the life of a child. Right now we have roughly 200 kids waiting to be matched, and having a goal of 60 matches by the end of the year would put a dent in that number."
Beggs said that as a child ages, it's tougher to match them with a mentor.
"Traditionally, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves kids between the ages of 5 through 17. But as they get older, it becomes more challenging to match kids with a mentor and they are placed on a wait list as a result. These are the ones who are at the age where they need a positive role model in their lives, the at-risk kids who need to be matched."
Beggs said matching a child with a mentor is based on factors such as common interests and the ability to participate in things together, but the most important factor to have is desire.
"It's a two-way street," she said. "Kids and mentors have to want to participate. Both parties have to be excited about it or it doesn't work. We want it to be an enduring relationship and more than just a year."
A commitment of at least one year is expected from a mentor, and it is recommended that they spend at least four to 10 hours a month interacting with the child. An applicant must be at least 21 years old, and a background check is involved.
The Cape Girardeau chapter, which is associated with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, was founded 12 years ago.
"When you take into account all that they do, it's easy to support them," said Dr. Jim Welker, superintendent of the Cape Girardeau School District. "We've been working on our graduation rate, and to me it's clear that Big Brothers Big Sisters helps keep kids in school and for them to graduate."
According to Welker, it's the relationship formed between the kids and their mentor that inspires them to stay in school.
"Big Brothers Big Sisters is big on building positive relationships, and that's what a lot of kids are in need of when they enter high school," he said. "We're talking about someone who will be there just for them and can drive home the importance of an education. That's why it works."
Welker said the school district looks for as many interventions from outside groups as it can find, but the record of Big Brothers Big Sisters speaks for itself.
"I appreciate and support what they do," he said. "They are a wonderful organization."
For more information on serving as a mentor to a child, contact Ashley Beggs at 339-0184 or visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters office at 1610 N. Kingshighway, Suite 305. Information is also available at www.bbbsemo.org.
1610 N. Kingshighway, Suite 305, Cape Girardeau, MO