Big Brothers Big Sisters is actively recruiting community members who live or work near Emerson Elementary School in Mesa to give two to four hours a month and be volunteer mentors. The program will meet on Thursdays at the school during the child’s lunch and recess break. The school is located at 415 North Westwood in Mesa near Alma School Road and University Drive.
Each student at the site (“Little”) is matched one-to-one with a volunteer mentor (“Big”) who meets with him or her at the school at least two times per month. They participate in structured activities with other matches that focus on helping the child build self-confidence and take their first steps on the path to success. Each site and match is professionally managed by a trained program specialist who works with the volunteer, child, school personnel and the child’s family to make sure the match is successful.
“Being a Big Brother or Big Sister is an easy way to experience the power of being in a mentoring relationship, and really make a difference in a child’s life,” said Susan Wiltfong, vice president of programs at BBBSAZ. “It’s a great way for volunteers to give back and meet others who give their time to help kids in our community.”
The Littles enrolled in the site-based programs are ages 6 to 13, and are referred by teachers, counselors and administrators who feel that the student could benefit by having a consistent, positive role model. Students enrolled in the program often report that they have a more positive attitude toward school and academics because they they look forward to meeting with their mentor. Parents and school officials credit the mentor’s influence when they see improvements in the child’s grades and behavior, and many report fewer truancies among students in the program.
“Our site-based mentors often tell us they feel they get more out of the mentoring experience than the students,” said Brandi Devlin, BBBSAZ senior director of marketing. “While we ask for a one-year commitment, many matches stay together until the child leaves the school to go on to middle school or high school; and many of those matches transition to our traditional community-based mentoring program where they meet on the weekends to continue the mentoring relationship.”
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and commit to meeting with their Little through the school year. The volunteer onboarding process includes an online application, interview, training, and a background check.
Volunteers who would like to be a Big Brother or Big Sister can visit www.bbbsaz.org/volunteer to get started or call (602) 264-9254.