By Nancy Price
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana (BBBSCI) will have a new operational home on North Meridian and 14th Streets by next spring.
Construction for the $1.8 million, two-story, 20,000-square-foot facility will begin in mid-October. The new location is part of a $7 million campaign called RISE, which stands for: Reach more kids, Inspire new opportunities, Strengthen our community and Emerge boldly.
The new building will help the non-profit’s organization goal to amplify recruitment, retention and support for potential big brothers/big sisters. BBBSCI plans to reach 1,500 children in central Indiana in the next five years.
“This is an historic move for us; we’ve excited and eager to get started,” said Caitlin Bain, development director for BBBSCI. “Our goal is to engage in the community in a bold new way we haven’t done before. We are eager to provide our mentoring program to every child that has asked for a mentor in our community.”
Crucial advantages for the extra space include mentor trainings and program activities, such as monthly game nights. There will also be racing slides for the littles.
Mentors are needed in Marion and Johnson County. Candidates must be at or over the age of 19, have the availability to see their little for two to four times a month/four to six hours a month for a minimum of 12 months and have a valid driver’s license and auto insurance with reliable transportation and undergo a background and mental health check.
The average wait time for a big to be paired with a little is 90 days. The average wait time for a little is a year. Bain assures that support is available for bigs and that bigs and littles are paired well together according to interests.
“We need bigs to show up and be themselves. All they need to do is explore and learn. Odds are that they’re going to enjoy time with their littles. We know that bigs will not always have the answers. They’ll have a support guide for them through the rough sports,” she said.
Bigs have the opportunity to change their littles’ lives in very positive ways, according to Bain. Many bigs don’t realize how much they can gain from the relationships or how much they can influence the littles.
“Ninety-seven percent (of littles) are more likely to avoid risky behaviors, 95 percent feel socially accepted and 96 percent have improved grades,” Bain said.
Bain shared an example of a success story of a big and little brother match: LaQuante and Chuck. LaQuante was looking for a mentor and contacted BBBSCI in 2009; he lived with his mother and sisters and wanted a male influence in his life.
“He was hoping for a big brother who could fill that void and be someone he could count on to stand in his corner and provide friendship, support and encouragement,” she said. “LaQuante was matched with his Big Brother Chuck and they were matched for four years. They bonded over laughter, homework, cooking meals and so much more. By the end of their time together, LaQuante was vice president of his high school class, a drum major in the marching band and graduated with a 3.7 GPA. LaQuante said, ‘Chuck is truly the best Big Brother in the world.’”
BBBSCI will be at the Leadership Johnson County All Aboard event on Sept. 24 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Whiteland Community High School, Auxiliary Gym, 300 East Main St., Whiteland.
We will be present at the Leadership Johnson County All Aboard event and are ready, eager and willing to attend other volunteer recruitment events in Johnson County as that is an area of need for volunteers.
To learn more about BBBSCI and how to get involved in the organization, visit bebigforkids.org.