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Big Brothers Big Sisters have fun with science

February 11, 2011

On Wednesday, Feb. 9, members of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program met at the Huff Athletic Center to meet with their “Littles.” Usually the Littles play games or work on craft projects in the Huff Center, but last Wednesday, the BBBS program teamed up with members from the chemistry and physics departments to show the children how fun science can be.

BBBS meets twice a month so college students can meet with elementary school children to help with homework or just to have fun together. One BBBS member, Alicia Marrero, has been a Big for three years now.

Marrero said she was interested in BBBS after a friend explained about the rewarding experience BBBS gave her. Marrero instantly decided to join.

“I was the youngest in my family,” Marrero explained. “My brothers were much older than me. I never had anyone to play with growing up so BBBS is always fun for me.  It’s exciting having a little sister I can help.”

Marrero has had the same Little since she started the program and she enjoys hanging out with her Little, but being a Big is not always easy. According to Marrero, the hardest part about being a Big is establishing a good connection.

“At first your Little doesn’t know you. You have to build their trust,” Marrero said. “You only see your little two times a month so it takes a while. These kids have been through a lot, and they know eventually their Big will graduate.”

After three years with her Little, it is easy to tell that Marrero has a connection not only with her Little, but with many other Littles as well. Her patience and understanding with the children made Marrero and her Little winners of a proclamation for National Mentoring Month. Marrero was honored at Monmouth’s city hall and was the local newspaper.

“Of course it’s great to be recognized,” said Marerro, “but I just go to support my Little.”

BBBS is always looking for students to help with the program. According to members of BBBS, there are many children who need a Big to connect with.

Program director Cathy Stiles has been trying to build up the number of Bigs for BBBS, but she said her biggest challenge is trying to find volunteers for the program.

“We have children on our waiting list that would love to be matched up!” said Stiles.

Anyone interested in becoming a Big can contact Stiles for more information regarding the program. The process for becoming a Big involves a written application, references, background checks and an interview. A year commitment to the program is also asked. No previous experience with children is required. Stiles is available at 309-837-5437 or cstiles@bbbs-mv.org.

BY STEVIE CROISANT
Contributing Writer

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