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Archive for Monday, September 16, 2002

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September 16, 2002

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County is diversifying.

"In the past, our activities have taken place out in the community  not at one specific site. That's changing," said Jane Pennington, the program's executive director.

Later this month, Big Brothers Big Sisters expects to launch Bigs in Schools, a program putting adult mentors with children while the children are in school.

Bigs in Schools will replace YouthFriends, a mentoring program that until this year was run by the Lawrence Partnership for Children and Youth. Lack of funding caused the partnership to drop the program.

"Nobody wanted to lose YouthFriends, so, basically, a bunch of us got together and agreed to have Big Brothers Big Sisters sort of take it over," Pennington said.

Currently, the program is recruiting volunteers willing to spend at least an hour a week with a child at the child's elementary or junior high school.

"They can do any number of activities  help with homework, read, eat lunch together, shoot baskets or learn a new skill," Pennington said.

Children will be referred to the program by their teachers or counselors.

Training sessions for volunteers are at 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays and noon Wednesdays at the Big Brothers Big Sisters office, Suite D, in the Charlton Manley Building at Eighth and Rhode Island streets.

Volunteers are asked to call 843-7359 for an application package.

"We think Bigs in Schools will attract a different group of volunteers (from Big Brothers Big Sisters) because it's only for an hour a week," Pennington said. "It's a lot more flexible."

In the Big Brother Big Sister program, volunteers are expected to spend three to four hours a week with their match.

Since its start in 1991, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County has matched more than 600 children, ages 5 to 17, with mentors. Most children come from single-parent families.

Before being matched with a child, volunteers are interviewed, and their backgrounds are checked by professional staff.

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