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Big Brothers, Big sisters start mentoring program
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BARTON COUNTY — This month as thousands of Kansas children return to school, Big Brothers Big Sisters reminds the community that it is the perfect time to get involved and become a mentor to a child in school.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Barton and Pawnee Counties has a Bigs in School Program in the Ellinwood, Great Bend, Hoisington, and Larned school districts. For this program, mentors join their Little Brother or Sister for breakfast or lunch on school grounds once a week.

"It only takes one lunch or breakfast a week to make a huge difference in the life of a child in our community," said Executive Director Stephanie Joiner "During that time you can eat a meal, play games, shoot hoops or just share stories of the day. Just that small amount of time can have a lifelong positive impact on a child."

In fact, a recent study by Harris Interactive found that Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteers are making lifelong impacts on the children they mentor.

• 90 percent said their mentor made them feel better about themselves

• 86 percent said their mentor helped them make better choices throughout their life

• 77 percent reported doing better in school because of their mentor

• 52 percent agreed their mentor kept them from dropping out of school

This year to date, the local Big Brothers Big Sisters office has served nearly 50 children, however, it currently has an additional 52 waiting for a mentor. "The Bigs in School Program offers another opportunity for us to address the needs of those children on our waiting list," said Joiner. The need for caring mentors is great and Big Brothers Big Sisters hopes that this program will appeal to local adults.

The Ellinwood and Hoisington programs are new for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency, and Joiner believes that they are a good way to introduce the mentoring program into those communities. She said, "One lunch in a work week is absolutely practical and simple; and the positive effects it can have on the community are extraordinary."

For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are in single-parent and low-income families or households where a parent is incarcerated. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers ("Bigs") and children ("Littles").

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides a system of ongoing evaluation and support which is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that "Littles" will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of nearly 400 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves a quarter million children annually. Learn how you can positively impact a child’s life, donate or volunteer today at

For more information about the Big Brothers Big Sisters Bigs In Schools program or how to get involved, call the local office at 316-290-8971 or toll free at 888-KS4-BIGS (574-2447), or visit