Special to the Ledger
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) held a seminar, encouraging college students to become part of BBBS.
Micheala Mathiesen, a former Big and Little, is now the volunteer service coordinator and big impact group manager for the organization in Kansas City. Last week, in her seminar, she emphasized how potential is everywhere. “We don’t have to create it, we just have to defend it,” Mathiesen said.
According to Mathiesen, there are 300 plus kids on the wait list and 80 percent of them are little brothers.
Mathiesen said, as a Big, you’ll be matched with a Little that shares your interests.
“For a few hours each week or every other week, you’ll do what you’d do with any other friend: see a movie, play catch, or just hang out,” she said.
Mathiesen often brought her Little to Starbucks, where they both worked on their homework.
“One time I took her to the car dealership when my car was in the shop, and I just painted her nails in the waiting room and that counted as a visit,” she said.
Mathiesen said that when matched with a Big, Littles reported higher self-esteem, improved academic performance, and were more prepared for after high school.
“Ninety-seven percent of Littles reported no involvement with juvenile court,” Mathiesen said.
A current college student, Blake Haywood, explains how his relationship with his little brother, Keneath grew over the course of a year.
“I originally thought that my role as a Big would look more like a coaching or teaching role, but it turned out to be a really genuine, brotherly friendship. It’s a lot of fun too,” Haywood said.
“Keneath is incredibly driven and smart and has so much to offer the world, and I feel like I’m empowered as his Big Brother to encourage him to continue pursuing a bright future,” Haywood said. They have recently hit their one-year anniversary and Keneath is about to start high school.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing and helping him take on the challenge of college applications, scholarships, and deciding what he wants to do after graduation,” Haywood said.
“My goal has always been to open some more doors for him and to open his eyes to the fact that there is a big world out there, and he’s capable of doing anything that he wants — college-wise, career-wise, relationship-wise, anything,” Haywood said.
Erica Ostroski, chief operating officer, helps place Bigs with their Little.
“Anyone can be a good mentor if they are willing to share their time with a Little,” Ostroski said. She said it’s important to have realistic expectations with your match and to be patient with them. Bigs share their life experiences and help their Little make good and positive choices,” Ostroski said.
Haywood emphasized how much being a Big Brother has impacted him. “If you’ve ever thought about becoming a Big, I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Not only will you feel like you are making a difference in someone else’s life, but it will make a difference in your life too,” Haywood said.