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BBBS provides assistance to kids in need
new kl united way
Big Brothers Big Sisters, a non-profit organization, marches in the After Harvest Festival parade in Ellinwood. - photo by KAREN LA PIERRE

Her voice brimming with enthusiasm, new Big Brothers, Big Sisters area director Diane Shoemaker has come on board with the non-profit organization which provides a little attention to kids-in-need, but has big results.
“Adults say it is so rewarding,” said Shoemaker. “The kids look up to you and appreciate what you do.”
The BBBS program matches at-risk children, ages 5-17, with an adult who spends 2-3 hours per week with the child. The children accepted for the program have been referred by school teachers and have a single parent, live at the poverty level, have a history of child abuse or have a parent that is incarcerated.
   The Bigs are asked to provide the child with consistency, which the child may lack, and meet with them three times per month. The activities are “simple things-going out to eat, watching a ball game or going to the fair,” said Shoemaker.    “The kids love going to someone’s house for dinner where they sit down, set the table and eat together,” which are all activities that may  not be going on in their homes.
“It just seems to me if a kid is more self-confident and likes going to school,” their life improves, said Shoemaker. “They like having a Big to talk to.
“A lot of matches last until the Little is age 18,” said Shoemaker. Both the Bigs and the Little find they continue the relationship, she said.
According to BBBS, Littles are 46 percent less likely to use drugs, 27 percent less likely to use alcohol, and 52 percent less likely to skip school. Littles also show 82 percent improved self-esteem, 70 percent have improved academic performance, and they are more 75 percent more likely to attend a four year college.
Bigs go through an extensive back ground check including courts, SRS, KBI, DMV and insurance, and are asked to make a one year commitment. BBBS is especially in need of male volunteers.
In addition, “we do want Bigs to have a driver’s license,” said Shoemaker. They will be driving the Little around the community.
BBBS now has two programs for volunteers. The first, discussed above, is the “Community Based Program.” A second program is called “Bigs in School.”
Volunteers for the Bigs in School program can begin at age 15.  They meet once a week with the child in the school lunch room. After lunch, they work together on homework or play on the playground.
All activities are at school, and the program is discontinued for the summer and school breaks.
BBBS has reorganized in the last year and is now under the state umbrella of Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Shoemaker said, “It used to be we had a local board, and it was all local. Everyone now comes under Kansas Big Brothers, Big Sisters.”
The local board serves as an advisory board. “It makes us more efficient,” said Shoemaker.
There are currently 13 BBBS matches in Barton-Pawnee County, and one thing Shoemaker would like to bring to the program is continuity and to increase the number of matches. There are 30 kids on the waiting list.
Next on Shoemakers agenda is to hire a part-time case manager overseeing Barton County.
Shoemaker currently has two fundraisers in the works in Barton County. First, they are selling tickets to win a trip to Alaska. The trip includes round trip air fare, seven nights lodging, and transportation on the Alaskan Railroad.
“It will be an awesome trip,” said Shoemaker. Cost is $20 a ticket or 6 for $100.
They will hold another pig roast at the Party in the Park, held 4-8 p.m. on Aug. 16.
For more information, call 620-797-5005 or the website www.kansasbigs.