INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It’s an urgent call for volunteers this holiday season as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana struggles to find mentors.
The lack of mentors, which the program calls “bigs,” is forcing some young Hoosiers to spend more than a year on the waitlist! The problem is especially prevalent for young boys as hundreds wait to be matched because officials say there aren’t enough male mentors.
“Big brother” Michael Damiano was matched with his “little” Anthony five years ago. The pair does everything together, from playing soccer with one another, to sharing more memorable moments.
"I got married last year and he came to my wedding. He drove seven hours, and he did a reading at the wedding,” Damiano said.
The two were matched when Anthony was just 11, back then he was a quiet middle school student, just trying to find his way.
That quickly changed once the two started seeing each other every week. Fortunately, Anthony wasn’t on the waitlist long. But for other young Hoosiers, the search for a mentor isn't easy.
These days, there are hundreds of youngsters on the waitlist for Big Brothers Big Sisters, some waiting more than a year to find their match.
“We just don’t have enough volunteers, and agency resources yet to get them all paired up quickly,” said BBBSCI CEO Darcy Palmer-Shultz.
In fact, nearly 70% of children on the waitlist are boys. Right now more than 700 are waiting to be paired up, an alarming statistic that has officials desperately searching for new mentors.
“It just takes a little bit longer for men to see that they can do this, or see where they fit into the program,” Palmer-Shultz says.
If you’d like to be a Big Brother or Big Sister, you need to be 19 years of age, commit to at least a year and be able to spend between 4 and 6 hours a month with your little. There are also other options. You could be a big couple or big friend. For more info, click here.