Over 100 children in need of mentors with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 6:18 PM CDT
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JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) - Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Johnson County is always looking for more volunteer mentors. With 100 kids waiting, they really need them now.

The reason so many are waiting is really two factors playing out at once.

During the height of the pandemic, Amelia Green-Erving’s mom found out about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County on Facebook.

“I was like maybe I should give it a try and give me some chances to get out of the house and have some fun. But I would still wear my mask and stuff,” Amelia told TV-9.

So she signed up. But, just like the many children on the waiting list right now, Amelia and her family stood by while staff searched to match her with a mentor.

Soon, she was matched with her big Nora Garda.

Program and Outreach Specialist, Dina Bishara says the large wait list is because more and more families are signing their children up.

“They’re really coming to us, we don’t have to recruit families and kids for this program. They talk to each other, it’s word of mouth. The families are really seeing the positive affect it’s having in other families,” said Bishara.

But that’s hit just as the Pandemic has left them with fewer volunteers.

Executive Director, Daleta Thurness says they encourage anyone and everyone to apply to be a mentor as long as they are over 18 and willing to simply care for the children they serve.

“One of the myths out there is that people feel like they have to be some kind of professional or have some kind of expertise to provide. But really we’re just looking for people to be a caring person to a young person,” said Thurness.

Mentors and children are paired for as little as a year, but many last a lifetime.

“You don’t have to be perfect. We say sometimes you just have to be present,” said Thurness.

Directors focus heavily on “match-making” when it comes to pairing up bigs with littles. Things as simple as the desire to be outdoors, hobbies, academic and sports abilities are taking into consideration so that the match can be as successful as possible for both the mentor and the child.

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