Big Brothers Big Sisters recognizes, seeks program mentors
LEWISTOWN – Aaron Fisher remembers how it felt as a child when time with his “big” was “all me, all the time.”
Now he wants to give other kids the same feeling.
In January, Big Brothers Big Sisters will celebrate the efforts of mentors like him during National Mentoring Month. According to a press release on the national BBBS website, the organization is encouraging everyone to recognize program “bigs” through social media outlets.
Though mentors are ordinary people in regular professions, “littles” describe their bigs as real-life superstars, the release states.
Fisher said he is a BBBS alumnus who entered the program as a little during fifth grade.
“I enjoyed just showing up … having someone to talk to and do things with,” he said.
Fisher remembers being excited to meet with his mentor and said memories of that feeling encouraged him to come back to the program as a big.
In October, Fisher was matched with a “little,” Ashton Crosson. He said the two share an outgoing, excited personality and, when Crosson is older, he wants to be in the Army, just like Fisher.
“I think (BBBS) gives him someone to rely on … somebody he can come to every week,” Fisher said.
The chance to “get away” and forget about the day-to-day adversity they face is the most significant opportunity mentors offer to their littles, he said.
Miranda Jones, a new mentor from Mifflin County High School, is also an alumna returning to the program. Jones said she joined the program for the first time after her father’s death when she was 8 years old.
Unlike Fisher and Crosson who meet weekly at school, Jones participated as a little in the community program, which matches children with adult mentors outside of school.
“I always looked forward to it. She (my big) came every Saturday,” Jones said.
She remembers going out to lunch, doing crafts and helping in her mentor’s garden. Jones said she looked forward to having someone to visit and talk with while she adjusted to her dad’s passing.
“Bigs … they volunteer because they want to be with you,” she said. “It’s nice to have somebody who wants to be with you.”
At this time, there are about 35 high school mentors enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Juniata Valley, the local chapter of the national organization. However, program coordinator Judy Fitzgerald said there are many children on the wait list in both Mifflin and Juniata counties and there are not enough mentors with whom to match them. She said the local chapter is always seeking more bigs for site-based programs at elementary schools, as well as community-based programs.
According to the national website, youth served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are less likely to participate in risky behaviors and typically maintain or improve scholastic competence.
For more information about becoming a mentor, call Big Brothers Big Sisters of Juniata Valley at 248-4034 or find the program on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BBBSJuniataValley.