Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati is urgently in need of volunteers, reports community development director Laura Rolf.
The agency pairs adult mentors – Big Brothers and Big Sisters – with young people in the Tristate who can benefit from a positive role model. Four hundred children are on the waiting list, with only a handful of volunteers being screened and matched. The need is critical, and the success is proven. Ninety-nine percent of children in the program are in school and are not involved with the juvenile justice system.
Mentoring also changes lives. Just ask Stacie Tanksley, 23, who was paired with a Big Sister at age 8. Tanksley says, “Both my parents and brother are mentally challenged. Though I’m not, I struggled. I was the child with no money, no friends and dirty clothes. Elementary school was horrible for me, except for the one day a week when I knew my Big Sister Marsha would pick me up after school.”
Marsha Ford was the one person she could count on. She was the person who helped with homework, took her to the library, mall and, her favorite, the airport.
The two lived in Lawrenceburg and Tanksley remembers, “For the first time, I realized the world was bigger than I ever imagined, and that I could find my way in it. Marsha changed my life forever.”
Ford, who told Tanksley, “Take it one step at a time and know I’m always in your corner,” saw her Little Sister graduate from college and will be the matron of honor at Tanksley’s upcoming wedding. She encourages more people in the community to become Big Brothers and Big Sisters, saying, “It’s important that every child have an adult in their life who believes in them, who is consistent in support, provides some structure and a safe place. You don’t have to spend money to make a difference. Make no mistake – you can make a difference in a child’s life. I guarantee the experience will make a difference in your life as well.”
Volunteer applications are available at www.bigsforkids.org.