Marquette Wire

Brothers, Sisters mentor ‘littles’

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The program's volunteers travel to the West Side Academy II and the Fitz Simmons Boys and Girls Club to meet with elementary-level children between the ages of 6 and 14.

Mentors are required to volunteer at least once a week for an hour, but may mentor more than one child or stay for longer periods of time. The "bigs" play games with the children, help them with homework or just socialize.

According to organization officer Meenu Alex, mentors can meet with their child at a chosen time between the hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.

"The problem with these kids lives is that they don't have consistency," said junior Jaquelyn Martinez, Marquette's Big Brothers, Big Sisters president. "We provide consistency. We go the same time on the same day of each week."

Martinez has volunteered with the same child for all three years she has participated in the program.

To become a big brother or sister, applicants must be interviewed by case managers from the Milwaukee office of the program who perform background checks, Martinez said. Students are questioned about their interests so that they may be paired up with a child that enjoys similar activities.

The kids interested in being paired with a volunteer are also interviewed to help increase compatibility between the "big" and "little."

According to Marquette's Big Brothers, Big Sisters officer Michelle Dreger, in addition to weekly visits with the children, the program sponsors occasional outings for the participants.

This year, the organization plans to have the children come to the Marquette campus for a picnic or to go trick or treating. They also plan to have the children attend a Marquette basketball game this winter and may go to the Milwaukee Zoo in the Spring, Martinez said.

Last year, about 110 Marquette students participated in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program. Martinez said the organization expects that a similar number of students will participate in the program again this year.

In past years, some children interested in the program were unable to participate due to a shortage of volunteers, Martinez said.

"I love being a kid again," Martinez said, "For an hour or two you can run around and play the games you played while you were a kid. You can let go of the hardships of facing adulthood."

Potential "bigs" and "littles" for this year are currently being interviewed. Students interested in participating in Big Brothers, Big Sisters can join the program by e-mailing Martinez at jacuelyn.martinez@mu.edu.

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