Published on January 27th, 2014 | by Millennium Magazine Staff1
Big Brothers Big Sisters: Mentors Richland One Students Can Count On
Volunteers spotlighted during National Mentoring Month
Ashley Ehlers and her mentee are sisters of the heart. Ashley is a senior at the University of South Carolina who volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program. Her little sister (who requested to remain unnamed) is a third grade student in Richland One.
For the past three-and a-half years Ashley has been a big sister in the program, watching her little sister grow academically and sticking with her even when she transferred to another district elementary school.
“In the time that we have spent together I have seen her gain a passion for learning,” said Ehlers. “I remember a time when it was more difficult to get her to focus on homework and now I can tell that she really wants to learn.”
Ehlers believes the weekly meetings at the schools are making a real difference for her little sister. “I’m not just helping her academically, I’m helping to build her character,” she added.
The mission of BBBS is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better. The organization has about a dozen volunteers in Richland One schools who work directly with students to help them achieve academically and socially.
“BBBS has been a great resource for Richland One to find positive role models for its students,” said Katy Watkins, Richland One’s volunteer and mentoring programs coordinator.
Each adult member of BBBS becomes a big brother or a big sister after a series of interviews which help the agency match them with a student. Mentors are as diverse as their mentees. Some are very outgoing and push students toward reaching their goals, while others have a much softer approach to mentoring.
“Every volunteer is different because each student is different,” says Emily Hebert, the director of education programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia. “But one trait each volunteer has in common is a sense of stability and a commitment to their mentee.”
Every student needs someone they can count on, and thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters, many Richland One students can feel good knowing they have positive adult role models in their lives. Because of this organization’s wonderful service to our school district and the community, it was selected to be spotlighted in January during National Mentoring Month. Thank you Big Brothers Big Sisters for all that you do.
Any organizations interested in learning more about mentoring and other volunteer opportunities at Richland One schools should contact Katy Watkins at 231-7511 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Media inquiries should be directed to the Richland One Office of Communications at 231-7504 or 231-7510.