Big Brothers, Sisters make dreams come true

Published 8:37 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010

For some, being a big brother or sister was a dream that never came true, but at the Family Guidance Center, the Big Brothers Big Sisters program can make that dream a reality while also making a lasting impression upon a child’s life.

This United Way agency first opened its doors to serve the community in 1998, and has been impacting the lives of children since then.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-profit organization that survives off of the donations of the surrounding community, fundraisers, grants and the continuous support of the United Way.

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Melinda Conner the activities coordinator and administrative assistant for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, has been working with the program since 2001.

Currently, she oversees the 180 children being served, and is in search for mentors that match the 100 children on the waiting list.

“It’s not the money you spend, but the time you spend with the child,” Conner said.

“The children come from mostly single parent backgrounds or are raised by another guardian, such as grandparents or an aunt.”

All volunteers recruited are 18 or older of age.

The mentors go through a vigorous packet of information, references, interviews and once they are cleared, they are matched with a child based on interests and compatibility, then are supervised monthly to ensure that match.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters is separated into two programs, a school-based program and a community-based program.

Currently, the school program resides at Troy Elementary School.

The school program is arranged between the mentor, and the teacher and is an hour a week with their child.

The community program is arranged between the mentor and the guardian, and is four hours a month.

“From football players to lawyers, most of our volunteers are some of the busiest people I’ve seen,” Conner said.

This organization depends on its volunteers, and is always in need of new mentors.

“They can always come to our activities and see how the other mentor’s are blessed from being a mentor,” Conner said.

Along with the school program and community program, the FGC plans as many activities as possible for the children.

Some of these activities are for the children currently waiting on a match for a mentor.

“The United Way plays a big role in supplying the proper funds to be able to maintain these activities,” Conner said.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters has these activities in order to not have any child left out.

The United Way sends a quarterly check, which varies based on donations received.

“The more people donate the more each United Way agency gets. The United Way is a tremendous help in continuing and contributing,” Conner said.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters holds fundraisers yearly to also help contribute to the program.

The upcoming fundraiser is the 7th annual Golf Tournament to be held October 18 at the Troy Country Club.

It is a four-person scramble with a hundred-dollar entry fee per person.

All funds raised go directly towards maintaining the program and supporting the children in need.

They also have a Home and Garden fundraiser held in the spring.

If you would like to donate, or are interested in being a mentor to a child, contact the Big Brothers Big Sisters program through Melinda Conner 334-566-2454.