Big Brothers Big Sisters is the largest youth mentoring organization in the United States, with more than 400 affiliate agencies nationwide. The Guidance Center has been affiliated with the National Organization since 1990, operating Big Brothers Big Sisters programs first in McKean County, expanding to Elk County in 2001 and to Jefferson County in 2008.
The Guidance Center’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Program supports one-to-one mentoring services between adult volunteers and children ages five and older. Children served have experienced some hardship that might make growing up a little harder. They are able to benefit from a mentoring relationship and have a parent/guardian willing and able to support the match relationship. Mentors must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Pa. driver's license and reliable transportation. Mentors also must be responsible and trustworthy, want to make a difference, enjoy having fun and be able to commit to spend at least four hours a month with a child for at least one year. Matches are made based on common interests, geographic proximity, and the preferences of the parent and volunteer. Matches typically get together two to three times per month and engage in everyday activities such as baking, bike riding, or just hanging out.
The program has rigorous protocols that include careful screening of adult volunteers, matching based on common interests, and regular contact with the child, the child’s family, and the adult mentor to ensure that the match is beneficial. Professional casework staff assists waiting and matched children and their families in connecting to resources and services to meet identified needs.
The 2011 Elk County Bowl For Kids’ Sake event will be held at Olympic Lanes in St. Marys on March 18 and 19. All proceeds from the event, which has a goal of $15,000, will be used to support mentoring services for Elk County children. Funding is used to support staff, facilitate case management, and for group activities for matched and unmatched children.
On March 18, the Elk County Catholic High School junior class will have their own special bowling event as part of the school’s commitment to community service. On March 19, the community Bowl For Kids’ Sake event will be held. Over 200 bowlers are expected over the two-day event.
Bowl For Kids' Sake is still looking for sponsors and bowling teams. For more information on the event or to register a team, contact The Guidance Center’s Big Brothers Big Sisters Program toll-free at 1-877-776-1636.