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Changing the stigma behind becoming a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Posted at 10:40 PM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 11:23:46-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana is looking for more mentors. More than 1,400 kids are on a waiting list right now.

"Letting people know that it's not as much as you think it is and it's not as hard as you think it is either," said Charles Stringer, Volunteer Coordinator.

Just a few hours a month to help impact a child's life is all BBBSCI is asking for. The number of kids in need of a mentor is at an all-time high, but there are not a lot of mentors to go around, specifically male mentors. They need more adults to step up and offer their time and support.

"Any hesitation about being able to help a child grow into adulthood, I think people ought to say let me give it a shot," said Big Brother Howard Beeson.

Beeson took that shot seven years ago, just as he was about to retire.

"I saw an advertisement in the newspaper that there were so many people that needed Bigs that I decided it'll be a good thing to do in retirement," said Beeson.

Beeson was matched with his Little Ryan, and the rest is history.

"I hope to see him graduate from high school, so we've got another three years together," said Beeson.

"In Johnson County, we had a waitlist on average around two years," said Stringer.

Back in September, BBBSCI launched its "Men to Mentor" campaign, at the time efforting 75 men in 75 days to become a mentor, specifically in Johnson County.

"We were able to recruit 17 new applicants to become mentors. While that still leaves a lot of kids waiting for mentors, that number is definitely something to celebrate," said Stringer.

Stringer said potential mentors are sometimes hesitant about being ready to step into the role and the time commitment.

"We ask for between 4-6 hours every month, and I always share a stat that the average adult spends 4-6 hours a day on their phone. So, it's about as much per month as we all spend on our phones every day," said Stringer.

Charles said they are working to do whatever they can and present more campaigns to encourage more mentors.

BBBSCI tries to match Bigs and Littles within the same county at least 20 minutes away. Although we spoke about Johnson County, the average wait time for kids in the other two counties they serve, Hamilton and Marion Counties, is still about two years.

Visit BBBSCI for more information about volunteering and how to become a mentor.