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More than 1,300 kids are on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana's waiting list, need for mentors

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Posted at 4:19 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 19:15:59-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana says it's seeing a record high number of kids waiting to be matched with a Big.

More than 1,300 children are on the nonprofit's waiting list and 75% of them are boys.

"It's screaming a call out for help. I mean this is important," said Andre Givens, CEO of 100 Black Men Indianapolis Inc.

Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors thousands of kids from sixth grade throughout high school. The children are asking for support and for someone to love and mentor them, but there's a lack of volunteers.

Right now, around 900 Bigs and Littles are matched, but those close to the program say that's not enough.

"These young people are asking for someone to walk alongside them and care about them, to let them know that they matter, to show them they belong [and] remind them of their power and potential; to help them explore opportunities and just be there for them when they grow up," said Darcey Palmer-Shultz, CEO of BBBSCI.

Palmer-Shultz says with such a high demand and lack of mentors, the average wait time for kids to be matched is at least a year.

"My little brother, for example, was on the waiting list for three years before he got matched with me, so a lot of these kids are going to age out," said Willie Little.

Little says by simply volunteering, you could change a young person's life. His little is now thriving in college.

Faith Roberts and her big, Kelsey, have been paired for five years.

"She means a lot to me. She just always encourages me to do stuff," said Roberts.

Because of Kelsey, she joined track last year and plans to do it again this year.

"When you think about what that means to have kids who are asking for just support and friendship and they have to wait for a year, that's not what we want to be," said Palmer-Shultz.

Volunteers must be at least 19 years old, have no criminal record involving a violent crime and be able to meet with a child at least twice a month for a year.

To volunteer, donate or for more information visit their website or call 317-921-2201.