INDIANAPOLIS — The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down Indiana's schools and one certainty right now is that kids in the community still need help and attention.
"The core of our mission, the core of our world is all in human relationships and connecting people together," Darcey Palmer-Shultz, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, said.
A global pandemic isn't going to stop Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana from doing just that, exposing kids to the world outside them and giving sthem meaningful experiences to positively impact their lives.
"And that is just as relevant now, maybe more so now, in this moment," Palmer-Shultz said.
Though they've had to get creative, the organization is still pairing little brothers and sisters with their big mentors.
Big brother Jim Stehlik and his little Caleb were must matched virtually.
"Seems like a really sharp kid and I'm just looking forward to it," Stehlik said. "He's got a great mom and she's excited about it. Also, they've been waiting for almost a year for a match."
Together, the pair, Caleb's mom and a match specialist held a match introduction through Zoom — how they're pairing all matches now.
"It's not ideal and it's not a replacement necessarily for a face-to-face sit down meeting but it's better than nothing," Stehlik said.
"A lot of kids have waited already for a long time to be matched," Palmer-Shultz said. "If we have the opportunity to get them connected to their big even now even in different times even in a different way, it's going to make a difference."
Right now there are hundreds of kids waiting for a big of their won. The need for volunteers is the highest it's ever been, serving kids ages 8 to 18 living in Marion, Hamilton and Johnson counties.
"Everyone's doing their best but the impact on children is something that might be overlooked if we're not mindful about keeping it in the forefront," Palmer-Shultz said.