United Way Volunteers meet some great kids and brush up on their "game skills"!
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley partnered with the United Way of the Quad Cities to provide a unique mentoring opportunity as part of the 2017 Day of Caring Campaign. Day of Caring is a one-day event that engages employees from companies throughout the Quad Cities in community service.
BBBSMV and 4 of their partner elementary schools offered a glimpse of what it's like to be a Big Brother or Big Sister through their Bigs for a Day project. Volunteers selected this opportunity through the United Way Day of Caring promotion. Volunteers arrived at their assigned school and were greeted by school and BBBS personnel. In addition to learning about the history of the school and demographics/needs of the student population, volunteers also took a brief tour of the campus.
Then the real experience began! Volunteers were paired up with students and given the opportunity to have lunch with them. The experience included a fun get-to-know-you "ice breaker game" (that involved M&Ms- a big hit with the kids). They also were able to play a game with the child- Sorry, math flash cards, Old Maid, Battle Ship and many other options. The Day of Caring project and lunches were sponsored by Genesis Health System.
Games and having fun are an important parts of the BBBS mentoring model. "It's important when creating a relationship of trust, that the child feels respected and considered an "equal"," states Sarah Walker, Senior Director of Community Partnerships. "Playing games early in the match relationship gets the volunteer down on the kids level- kids feel they have a say in where the relationship goes."
Following their mentoring experience, BBBMV provided a brief overview of its programming. Volunteers were able to learn about how BBBSMV works with United Way, area school systems, businesses and community organization in helping children achieve academic and social success. Volunteers were also encouraged to consider enrolling as a Big for the 2017-18 program year.
"We love having volunteers visit our schools and meet with individual children," stated Val Kilner of Francis Willard. "these kids have such potential, if only they had someone in their corner encouraging them and helping them sort through their challenges."
Bigs for a Day is a great way to get a feel for how mentoring works. On the simplest terms, it is being a friend and spending some quality time talking and enjoying each other. On more serious terms, it is a powerful influence on the child's decision-making and self-esteem.
If your company or organization is interested in participating in a Bigs for a Day experience, please contact Sarah Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.