you're reading...

Cornelius News

Thoughts on being a ‘Big’ for Big Brothers Big Sisters


By Suzanne Fulton. Two years ago I became a mentor to a child in Cornelius through Big Brothers Big Sisters. I was inspired to venture into this role by my friend Jacqueline Smythe, who had been mentoring one girl for some time, and by the folks who organize the annual Big Day at the Lake event that benefits BBBS.

A staff member of BBBS matched me with a “Little” after I passed the vetting process that includes a background check, an interview and reference checks. During that interview, in Cornelius, I learned that a volunteer has the option of being a “school-based” or a “community-based” mentor. I decided to dip my toe into mentoring via the school-based option.

Now that I’ve experienced four academic semesters in this role, I can attest that it’s an easy gig. Once a week, I visit with my Little Sister at lunch at Cornelius Elementary except when school is on break. It’s an orderly and friendly environment. In the cafeteria, an area is set aside for kids to lunch with their parent or their Big. There we eat and can play a board game from a selection set aside by BBBS. My Little and I have another half hour to spend in the school library or go out to the playground.

During our times together, various opportunities arise for me to be helpful. I certainly sympathize when she reports about being picked on by other kids. I offer up a tactic or two for dealing with that or about how to keep a friend. There are more opportunities to be helpful, like reading together in the library,  or interjecting a request for polite behavior when necessary—e.g., say thank you; don’t run off to speak with a friend when we’re visiting. Most of the time, I just give her attention and friendship.

I leave the school hoping—sometimes knowing—that I’ve made a positive impact. My rewards have included hugs and smiles and even, “watch me, watch me” when she does a cartwheel.

I can attest that Bigs receive plenty of guidance and support by the way of documents offering tips and suggestions for conversation and activities as well as monthly contacts by the agency’s program coordinator.

Big Brothers Big Sisters says there are more than 300 children waiting for a Big in either the school-based or community based-mentoring program.

To learn more, contact Program Coordinator Maria Dozier:  office:  704-910-1301 ext. 1037, and visit www.bbbscharlotte.org