Chelsie Cooper and Kiera Figures are not related, but they still consider each other sisters. They were matched together about three years ago, through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State.
“We go to the park a lot,” said Figures, a Little Sister in the program. “We talk a lot of about school and how I should try better to get my grades up.”
“Everyone needs a role model,” said Cooper, a Big Sister in the program. “Everyone needs one and some people aren’t fortunate enough to have one in their family.”
Lately, more children in the area are in need of mentors. Patti Price, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State, estimates she’s seen a 10-15 percent increase in the number of children applying to be matched with a big brother or sister. Price believes part of the reasoning behind the spike could be attributed to the local drug epidemic.
“A lot of children that we have are living with grandparents and other relatives, so there’s a tremendous need to have a stable, consistent person in that child’s life,” said Price.
Unfortunately, the current supply of mentors can’t meet the demand. The program has a shortage of people volunteering to be a big brother or sister, leaving about 70 children currently on the waitlist, according to Price.
“It’s discouraging for the children who are waiting and for the parent-guardians because they certainly want these children to get matched to a mentor,” said Price.
Price says the majority of kids waiting for a match are boys, so there’s especially a need for male volunteers.
Being a friend in the child’s life can range from an hour a week at their school, to spending 4-6 hours doing activities in the community with them twice a month.
“People just need to learn more about it and understand that it’s not that much time and they’re giving a little bit of time to make an impact in a huge way,” said Cooper. “It’s definitely, definitely needed in this area.”
For more information on volunteering, visit www.bbbstristate.org, or contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Tri-State at (304) 522-2191 or (606) 329-8799.