Fueled by early interest, the move toward a Baldwin City chapter of Big Brothers/Big Sisters is now idling while officials of the Lawrence mentoring organization determine the long-term commitment a local chapter would have.
"We welcome the support we've received, especially from the Baker University students, but we need much more," said Melissa Howard, Big Brothers/Big Sisters case manager. "We need a lot more support in the form of a core group of 10 to 15 community members to support us down there to get us up and running.
"We can't even think about starting a Baldwin chapter until we get a strong idea of the support we'll receive," she said. "The Baker students responded very well, but we need community members who can be on the board of directors and help with fund-raising. These are the kind of people who will be involved with the program for years to come."
Through initial efforts of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, a "Campus Pals" program was started, which matched about 20 Baldwin children with mentoring students from Baker. From those 20, about a dozen have been identified as eligible for the longer-term program because they are from single-parent homes.
In addition to seeking potential board members and other support from the community, Howard said the group must gauge how many Baldwin residents would be interested in being Big Brothers or Big Sisters. There are only two basic requirements -- volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have a vehicle.
"Other than that, it takes all kinds," she said. "Different kids have different needs. Sometimes it takes just being there. They do need to make the commitment for at least a year to meet with the child at least once a week for three to four hours."
Those interested in the program should attend one of the organization's informational meetings. They are at 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays and noon Wednesdays at the Lawrence office, 733 Mass. The program is outlined and applications are provided. From there, references and backgrounds are checked. Interviews with the staff are then conducted.
Interested persons should contact Big Brothers/Big Sisters at (785) 843-7359.