Oct 14, 2008

Pseudo-siblings: Students spend time with local kids

by Emily DeFosse

Senior Jessica Johnson has invested time in the life of her little sister, Deiza, since April 2006. Deiza is not her biological sister; she is the young girl Jessica mentors through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Virginia.

“I enjoy the friendship that Deiza, my ‘Little,’ and I have formed,” Johnson said. “I joined the program to get more involved in the community and show Jesus’ love in a practical way, only to find out that my little sister has given me so much more.”

“The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Virginia is to make a positive impact in the lives of children and youth,” Ash Gorman the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters Central Virginia said, “and to assist them in becoming confident, competent and caring individuals by providing them with caring and responsible adult mentors.”

Participants in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program are expected to spend six to eight hours with their “Little” every month. There are two different programs participants can chose from. The first allows the “Bigs” and “Littles” to interact together within the local area.

“For example, they can go to the movies, the park or out to dinner,” Gorman said. The second program is based on-site. The “Bigs” and “Littles” meet at a local elementary school.

“The ‘Big’ and ‘Little’ have no contact outside of the site. We ask the ‘Big’ to visit the site to meet with their ‘Little’ during the ‘Little’s’ lunch or recess break,” Gorman said. “‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ in this program can work on academics, play games in the guidance counselor’s office, go out to the playground, read or work on the computer in the library or simply sit together, eat lunch and talk.”
Liberty students are excited by the chance to spend time investing in the lives of children from the Lynchburg community.

“Over the past two to three years we have seen a huge spike in the involvement from Liberty students,” Gorman said. “In total Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Virginia will have approximately 50 Liberty students in our programs this year.”

Students are not the only members of the Liberty community involved in this program. Susan Crabtree is a full-time staff member who works as an instructional technologist at the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence. She has been involved in the program since February.

“What I appreciate is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be involved in this program, but rather it’s the time that we spend together that really makes a difference,” Crabtree said. “Just listening and supporting these young people through the difficult years and sometimes, their difficult life situations, that is what makes it so rewarding for me. I can see that I can have a positive influence in her life, which gives her hope for the future. That makes me happy.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Virginia recruits largely in college areas. They can be contacted at 434-528-0400 or on their Web site at www.bigcva.org.


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