Big Brothers, Big Sisters

by Amy HaugeStaff Writer

Big Brothers Big Sisters is just one of the many opportunities Simpson students have to volunteer and make a positive impact on the Indianola community while making new friends, even if they’re just knee-high.

Many Simpson students find out about BBBS through the Wesley Service Scholarships as well as through information that is sent via e-mail from BBBS.

“I heard about BBBS on campus,” senior Emily Knudsen, a BBBS mentor, said. “There are brochures about it down in the BSC by the mailboxes.”

There are two mentoring programs available to students. First, school-based mentoring helps enhance the child academically and socially. Students meet with their partners in the school setting. This program requires 30 minutes once a week, whenever is most convenient.

Second, community-based mentoring helps the child outside the school setting. This program requires four hours per month. During this program, volunteers can take the children into the community to participate in various activities. These activities often include eating out, attending sporting events, going to the movies and simply hanging out with one another.

BBBS has mentoring programs at all four of the Indianola elementary schools. In Indianola alone, BBBS has mentored 125 students.

Approximately 80 percent of the mentors in Indianola’s school-based program are Simpson students.

“BBBS is for kids who need or want some extra attention or need or want another positive influence in their lives,” Knudsen said.

Having a BBBS mentor can benefit childrens’ development in areas such as self-confidence, relationships with peers, decision-making, academic performance and the ability to express their feelings.

The children involved gain a sense of self. Having a positive mentor can make a huge impact later in a child’s life by encouraging good choices and possibly giving back by being a mentor.

“BBBS even provides support and help through [the child’s] daily life,” Alyssa Pressler, service coordinator for Indianola BBBS said.

Knudsen said that the time she spends with her BBBS partner each week is something they both look forward to.

“We always talk about what is going on in his life, how he is doing, and he always wants to talk about things he’s interested in, like 4-wheelers and football,” Knudsen said.

As mentors for BBBS, students also provide guidance, support and friendship. The children look forward to the time they have with their partners, even if it’s only a half an hour.

“The [students] look up to mentors,” Pressler said.

BBBS gives Simpson students an opportunity to take a break from their busy lives and help someone else. “It’s easy for many of us to get caught up in our own busy lives,” senior mentor Andrew Reid said. “This gives me a chance to make a difference in a life other than my own. I have had one of my [partners] since my first year, and the other I have had since my junior year. It has been fun watching them grow up before my eyes.”