A call for more ‘Bigs’

Ms. Rooney is a freelance writer living in Chico.

So your children are all grown, while the grandchildren haven’t arrived yet, and maybe you’ve wanted somebody with whom to practice blowing bubble gum bubbles. Or perhaps you’ve had a hankering to take a little person to watch a production by the local children’s theater.

Don’t wait for the grandchildren to come along. And if you’re somebody (young or old) who simply desires to make a significant difference in a young person’s life, then—here’s your opportunity. Currently, there are 250 children on the waiting list at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte County.

Two-hundred and fifty young ones eager for somebody to give them just a bit of time and attention.

I recently stumbled across this startling need in Butte County when I met Molly Heck, local program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, a national program that builds, strengthens and promotes positive relationships between youths, adults and families by facilitating mentoring relationships within communities. Molly told me the need for mentors exists well beyond Chico, in all of the outlying areas.

Additional mentors aren’t the only need, however. “We require additional funding, too, so we can provide the support staff for the increase in volunteers,” Molly explained. If you think about it, this is one organization we should all support. There are many households in Butte County where parents have to work long hours and where children often don’t receive as much attention as might be optimal.

Children (lovingly called “Littles") can benefit from the extra one-on-one time they receive from their mentors, or “Bigs.” Statistics show that 46 percent of Littles are less likely to start using drugs and 27 percent are less likely to start drinking. Fifty-two percent are less likely to skip school, while 37 percent are less likely to skip class. Thirty-three percent are less likely to hit someone.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to serve as a mentor, then consider helping this organization in one or more of the following ways: Make a donation; encourage others to get involved; convince your organization to become a sponsor; join the board of directors or a committee; take part in the upcoming (April 2) Bowl for Kids’ Sake event (or some other event).

Even if you’re not ordinarily one to give to good causes, please consider giving to this one. Two hundred and fifty kids can use your helping hand.

Contact Big Brothers Big Sisters at 343-8407. Visit its Web site at www.bigbrothersister.org.