SIDNEY — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby and Darke County continues its mission to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. The organization’s vision is for all children to achieve their full potential in life. Big Brothers Big Sisters has been extremely busy this past year from strategically growing programs in both service areas. Overall, 308 children were served by the agency during 2019 through their community-based and school-based programs. It was a busy year in 2019 with continued growth in the agency’s programming, especially in Darke County with the help of a full-time program coordinator.
“The Match Day event through The Shelby County Community Foundation made a BIG impact on seeing the generosity and support for our services in both Darke and Shelby County. We are very grateful for that. We have, and continue to have, a great response from our new brand, and feel like it reaches a broader audience,” said Jennifer Bruns, executive director.
Her report continues:
With growth comes the need for funding to support this growth. So with the one biggest fundraiser on the horizon, the organization would love to have the continued support of the community by coming out and participating in their Bowl For Kids’ Sake event. The fundraiser will take place on March 6 and 7, 2020, at Bel-Mar Lanes in Sidney and McBo’s Lanes in Versailles. This event is open to the public and allows community members and businesses to form bowling teams and compete against one another.
As always, we are very grateful and appreciative of all the volunteers and supporters we have in and beyond our service area.
The agency’s core community-based program is one of the four programs in which it serves children in Shelby and Darke Counties. With this program, adult “Bigs” are matched with “Littles” to provide a mentoring relationship with an at-risk child. The agency currently has 17 children who are ready to be matched, and community members are encouraged to get involved. The goal is to have all children waiting to be matched with a Big by the end of the year. The after-school “Big Buddies” is another mentoring program which helps provide role-models for children.
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 year, Big Brothers Big Sisters is utilizing the Peace Education Foundation’s “Peace Works” curriculum, which focuses on violence prevention, social and emotional development, conflict resolution, mediation skills, character and values, and bullying prevention.
Current Big Buddies programs are available at Longfellow, Northwood and Emerson Elementary Schools in Sidney; and Ansonia, Versailles, Tri-Village and Greenville Elementary Schools in Darke County. Their Career Quest program, in conjunction with Sidney High School’s Opportunity School, is a mentoring program where credit-deficient students are paired with adult mentors to help them get on track for graduation. The mentors help students build positive character and resilience, 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.
Approximately 22 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. Aside from their Bowl for Kids’ Sake fundraiser, also their Duck Derby & Duck N Run 5K fundraiser will be held June 18 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. Affordable corporate sponsorships are available for both fundraiser events by going to their website. Big Brothers Big Sisters is always in need of volunteers for all of its programs.
Information on how to sponsor fundraisers, or how to get involved as a supporter or potential volunteer, visit their website at www.bigbrobigsis-shelbydarke.org