LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX18) — Mentoring program Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass is facing a big challenge as summer approaches. Simply put, the organization needs more men.
There are nearly 150 kids on the waiting list. 60% are boys of color, and nearly 75% come from single-parent homes, according to BBBS president and CEO Chris Peck. Without more male volunteers, many of those children might never know the benefits of a mentor.
He points to men like Glenn Means, a longtime Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer who has watched his match Jackson grow up from middle school to high school.
“Just being able to be a part of that process and mentor him, and have him teach me things along the way as well, has been very rewarding,” Means told LEX 18. “Boys need mentors. They need that figure in their life that maybe they might be missing.”
Peck says they’re not entirely sure why there’s a shortage of male volunteers, but it’s a national issue they’re determined to solve at the local level.
“If you see one child change, that can change the trajectory of an entire family,” Peck said. He also says being a mentor doesn’t need to be intimidating because kids just want to spend time with an adult who cares. Typically, men who sign up for the program spend an hour with their match a few times a month. They might play a sport together, make a craft, or just sit and talk. Either way, the relationships help kids grow confident academically and socially.
“90 percent of our kids who were polled say having a mentor helps them make better decisions,” Peck said. “90 percent of kids say having a mentor makes them feel better about themselves.”
Means echoes that message and encourages other Kentucky men to consider becoming a mentor.
“Step out of your comfort zone,” he said. “Take a risk. This could be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.”
BBBS currently needs 15 male mentors for the school-based volunteer program this fall. For more information, click here. You can also call the office at 859-231-8181.