Labette County Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer and participant numbers are growing.

“We’ve made three matches in the last couple of weeks,” BBBS Southeast Kansas Area Director Monica Holmes said as she spoke excitedly of the rebuilding of the area’s program in recent months under its new leadership, despite COVID-19. “We’re told these are the best Labette’s numbers have been.”

Still, there is a great need.

“We are doing the 10 Men Challenge,” Holmes said. 

Looking through data to see the age and gender of the children on the waiting list, Holmes noticed a wide disparity.

There seemed to be a large number of women who volunteer as Bigs but not as many girls participating to link with a Big Sister. On the guy side, it is the opposite, with lots of boys looking for a Big Brother, but few adult males volunteering.

“Between Crawford and Labette there are 33 (Littles) on the waiting list and 29 are boys, but we don’t get many male volunteers. I don’t know what it is. … Labette, we have 10 on the waiting list and nine are boys,” Holmes said.

Given the shortage of male volunteers, BBBS is trying to encourage 10 men to volunteer in a month, hence the “10 Men Challenge.”

She doesn’t know what it is that keeps men from volunteering a few hours of their time each month to just hang out with a boy, talk and have fun. She pondered some of the possibilities but said she is not really sure why. Being a Big doesn’t require a lot of time, only a few hours a month. Though oftentimes the men who talk publicly about being a Big Brother have professional level careers, average Joes volunteer, too. Being a Big is not about what you can do for a youth financially. It is just about being there to share a little time, have a little fun and lend an ear, a smile or a little insight into life.

Joe Burke started as Big Brother in 2013.

“When I first started as a Big Brother seven years ago, I hoped to make a difference in a Little’s life, but what I didn’t expect was what a difference he would make in mine. I’ve been with my Little since fifth grade, and in the fall he’ll be a senior and the first to graduate high school in his family,” Burke said. “Our relationship has grown over the years, and I break our experiences down into the following categories: school, sports, leisure activities, work ethic, giving back, cars and girls.

“It’s a great feeling to have an impact on another human being and for that person to have an impact on you. Is it worth the effort to be a Big Brother? You bet it is. The hardest part is taking the first step.” 

To learn more details of Burke’s experience visit Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters serving Labette County Facebook site.

If you would like to learn more about BBBS and being a Big, visit the Facebook site, or contact BBBS match support specialist Ali Smith at 421-0472 or 620-644-9060.

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