55 children are currently waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister in Jefferson City.
According to program director, Lee Knernshield, the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program always has a waiting list, but 55 is an especially high number. She said part of the reason is that the program has been more aggressive than usual when looking for children who need a mentor.
“There a lot of kids who are being raised in a single-parent home and have very limited involvement from that parent or no involvement from that parent that lives outside of their home,” she said, “and so, they are just children that need an extra support system.”
Kids are referred to the program either by their own parent or from a school or social services agency. Knernshield said Missouri Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters is kicking off a new campaign to inspire employees of local businesses to volunteer to help the kids on the waiting list. She said Big Brothers Big Sisters offers children and volunteers a unique opportunity.
“I think there’s something unique about a person that comes into a child’s life that has no connection really, but just demonstrates to that child how they’re there for them, and they’re going to see them every week and they care about them,” Knernshiel said. “That relationship—I mean, it does amazing things in people’s lives.”
Being a volunteer mentor requires a commitment of at least two hours per week.