Changing the lives of children one conversation at a time
By Steph Lulofs
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore (BBBS) wants to help kids develop into healthy and happy adults.
“Our mission is to provide children facing adversity with a strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationship that changes their lives for the better, forever,” said Lisa Hegenbart, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore. “Many of the children enrolling in our program are facing challenges and a Big Brother or Big Sister can make a difference.”
The role of the Bigs is to be a friend for the Littles. BBBS partners Bigs and Littles based on their personality, background, and likes and dislikes, among other things.
Outings with Bigs and Littles can include going to the park, baking, having lunch, visiting a library or playing a game.
According to BBBS, children who get involved with the program are 46 percent less likely to start using illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to use alcohol and are 87 percent more confident in themselves.
Both Eddie Bullinger and Amy Urick became involved with the organization several years ago in order to make a difference in children’s lives.
“Being a ‘Big’ has given me so much,” said Urick, 2018 recipient of the Big Sister of the Year award. “There’s the support and guidance, plus the fun stuff that BBBS provides for matches, but most of all for us, it is the legitimacy that being Katt’s ‘big sister’ gives me.”
Urick and her Little, Katt, have been matched for almost four years.
Bullinger, Big Brother of the Year for 2018, is now partnered with his second Little.
“I’ve been doing this long enough to see my first Little grow into a confident, responsible, honest man,” Bullinger said. “While the majority of the credit should go to him and his family, I like to think I had a little part in that.”
Hegenbart said 40 children are currently waiting to be matched with an adult.
The commitment to be a Big consists of four to eight hours (two to three outings) a month, depending on the relationship. n