Big Brothers Big Sisters seek new volunteers

Ashanka Kumari

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama, an organization that works to change the way susceptible children see and interact with the world, is looking for volunteers.

“We have an especially big need for male volunteers,” Nikki Richardson, executive director of BBBS said. “We have an abundance of little boys who are waiting to be matched with a Big Brother so we are always in desperate need of guys.”

Any adult over the age of 18 with a valid driver’s license and automobile insurance is eligible for volunteer consideration, Richardson said.

“[Potential volunteers] go through a training process with our [current] volunteers to let them know what to expect and to get to know them before we select a child who will compliment their personality and interests,” Richardson said. “We also do a series of thorough background checks to insure the safety of our children.”

A BBBS volunteer is given a little brother or sister based upon the volunteer’s gender and is asked to spend time each week with his or her little brother or sister, said Orman R. Wilson, CPA and tax manager and Big Brother at BBBS.

“We are a substitute for the adult missing in [a child’s] life and we are to mentor the child on values and the importance of education,” Wilson said. “As a Big Brother, I am required to spend a minimum of one hour each week with my Little Brother; however, I usually spend three or four.”

Volunteers are expected to spend one hour per week for a minimum of one year with their Little Brother or Little Sister, Richardson said.

“We hope that our Bigs will build a lifetime relationship with their Littles,” Richardson said. “Many of our volunteers have been matched with the same child for six to seven years or more.”

According to the organization’s website, 85 percent of former Littles surveyed agreed that their experience influenced them to have confidence in their abilities and in overcoming adversity or problems with courage, while 67 percent of former Littles agree that their Big played a role in their decision to attend college.

BBBS is a two-way street filled with benefits, Wilson said.

“You think only the child benefits from the relationship, but from personal experience, I know that the big brother or sister benefits as well,” Wilson said. “Most of us have been blessed, so this is a way of giving back and helping someone less fortunate.”

Anyone interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister should contact the BBBS office at (205) 758-5734 or email at bbbs@bbbswestal.org. For more information on BBBS West Alabama, visit bbbswestal.org.