SIDNEY — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby and Darke County continues to focus on their mission to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Their vision is for all children to achieve success in life. Overall, 385 children were served by the agency during 2017 through their community-based and school-based programs.
Jennifer Bruns, executive director, has submitted the following report:
The agency closed out 2017 serving approximately 129 children in their core community-based program. With this program, adult “Bigs” are matched with “Littles” to provide a mentoring relationship with an at-risk child. The agency currently has 22 children who are ready to be matched, and community members are encouraged to get involved. The goal is to have all 22 children matched with a Big by the end of the year.
Their after-school “Big Buddies” mentoring program consists of 203 participants. Big Buddies is a nine-month commitment where high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors volunteer two times per month to mentor elementary students. During these meetings, high school students, under the supervision of Big Brothers Big Sisters staff, work with one or two children on different educational and recreational activities. This school year’s program focuses on ecological awareness and earth-friendly practices. The program promotes social and emotional development through various activities. Current Big Buddies programs are available at Longfellow, Northwood, Emerson, and Whittier Elementary Schools in Sidney; and Ansonia, Versailles and Greenville Elementary Schools in Darke County.
Their X-Force program, in conjunction with Workforce Partnership of Shelby County, is a middle school mentoring program where Sidney Middle School students are paired with adult professionals from the community. Through this program, six professionals are currently mentoring sixtudents. They meet twice a month to focus on job skills needed for future workforce placement. Sessions also take place at local businesses for hands-on learning.
Their Career Quest program, in conjunction with Sidney High School’s Opportunity School, is a mentoring program where 40 Credit-deficient students are paired with 22 adult mentors to help them get on track for graduation. Mentors are trained through Rhodes State College and meet with students on a weekly basis. The mentors are helping students build positive character and resiliency, all while preparing them for positive future careers.
They also offer a “Lunch Buddies” program at Jackson Center Elementary School where community members have lunch every Wednesday with an assigned second- and third-grade student. During their lunches together, mentoring relationships are formed and time is set aside to help improve academic skills. The agency currently serves seven children in this program, and volunteers are greatly needed.
Approximately twenty percent of the operating funds for both counties are derived from Shelby and Darke County United Way agencies. Additional sources of revenue come from grants and fundraisers. Their Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraiser will be held March 2 and 3 at Bel-Mar Lanes in Sidney and Treaty Lanes in Greenville. This event is open to the public and allows community members and businesses to form bowling teams and compete against one another. Each team member collects donations to help reach the $40,075 goal. Their Duck Derby & Duck N Run 5K fundraiser will be held June 21 at Tawawa Park in Sidney. This event is open to the public as well, and allows individuals to “adopt” ducks that will race down Tawawa Park’s Mosquito Creek. In 2017, the agency launched 2,493 rubber ducks and the first place duck and its’ owner took home a $1,000 cash prize. Affordable corporate sponsorships are available for both events by going to their website.
More information about the agency and fundraisers can be found at www.bigbrobigsis-shelbydarke.org