January is National Mentoring Month. Homer’s Big Brothers Big Sisters organization has events planned over the next few weeks to celebrate.
The whole mentoring relationship within Big Brothers Big Sisters comes down to the Bigs and Littles.
“These volunteers that we get, the Bigs, they range anywhere from their mid-20s up to their early 70s,” Community Director Jenny Martin said. “And they do a variety of activities. I have matches, definitely, that go, go, go…. And then I have other matches… all they do is hang out…. I always tell everybody, if you guys are happy, I’m happy. For the kids, especially the elementary kids, it’s all over their faces when I come over to the school to check in with them.”
Martin said she has 45 matches right now, which is a pretty big number for an area the size of Homer. She said Bigs and Littles both wind up in the program for a variety of reasons, could be the kids are from a big family and need a little more attention. And maybe a Big just likes spending time with an excitable 4th grader.
Martin said whatever the reason, she likes to watch the relationships build and see how each person grows. That’s especially true when it comes to the organization’s school-based program for high school students.
“They’re matched with kids anywhere from kindergarten up through 5th grade…. They learn so much about relationships, child development, the drama that happens in elementary school,” she said.
But running this type of program isn’t free. Martin said money comes in from grants and fundraising efforts. So this year BBBS is having its first mentoring fundraiser on Jan. 18. Tickets for the fundraiser are currently on sale at the Homer Bookstore. Martin said the first 30 people who buy tickets also get a ticket to Stepping Out, which is scheduled for later that night.
She said the final event for the month is a family movie night. She isn’t sure which movie will play yet, but it’s between Monsters University and Despicable Me 2. And before the movie starts, winners of the “Mentor Writing Contest” will read their stories or poems.
“They had to write about somebody who was a mentor in their life…. It could be a parent, a relative; it could be a teacher or coach,” she said.
The movie night is set for Jan. 30 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Homer Theatre. Martin said the event is free, but donations are appreciated. The “Bowl for Kids’ Sake” annual event is scheduled for March 29 at Kachemak Bowl.