WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff (BBBSF) once again returns to Williams for the new school year for its school based mentoring program, meeting once a week for two hours after school every Thursday.
A young person in grades first through fifth is matched with a volunteer, either a Big Brother or a Big Sister, and with the guidance of a facilitator right there on site they will engage in group activities, arts and crafts, play outside, or just hang out and talk.
"We do very extensive background checks, child safety is obviously one of our main priorities," said Laurel Clohessy, school based mentoring coordinator for BBBSF. "But all that we ask in a volunteer is that it's a person willing to give a little extra time and somebody that enjoys being a friend and a positive role model to a young child."
Clohessy said BBBSF is always looking for and accepting new volunteers, as well as open to creating more business partnerships with the community. These partnerships with local businesses benefit both the local business by getting their name out there with community outreach and BBBSF by providing recruitment opportunities and favorable circumstances to receive donations (i.e. Clothes for Kids' Sake). Businesses also sometimes like to have special sales or a car wash, for example, where the proceeds then partially or all go to benefiting BBBSF.
For the school based mentoring program the volunteer needs to be 16 or older and must stay in or around the school with his or her Little Brother or Little Sister. For normal community based mentoring or the "school plus" program, the volunteer needs to be over 18 with a valid driver's license and is allowed to go out and about outside of the school setting without a facilitator. Ages for boys in the program are 7-15 and girls 6-15.
"I think Williams is a community that has a lot of children and young people that need somebody positive in their lives, or just something to do or somebody to talk to," Clohessy said.
Other programs within BBBSF are Step Up, a partnership with the juvenile justice system mentoring troubled adolescents, and All Stars, where BBBSF works with youth that have a relative or sibling incarcerated. They also have an annual fundraiser called Bowl for Kids' Sake every February at the bowling alley in Flagstaff.
For more information or to volunteer yourself or your business call Big Brothers Big Sisters Flagstaff at (928) 774-0649 or visit www.bbbsf.com.