Mentors work around challenges to make a difference for children

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 8:36 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin, children facing adversity would previously shoot hoops or eat lunch at school with their mentor. Things are much different now.

When the pandemic hit Wisconsin, mentors with Big Brothers Big Sisters weren’t able to connect with their mentees like usual.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Wisconsin marketing manager Drew Kaiser says the children’s health and safety is always the main concern.

“We had matches that kind of just became pen pals, spoke on the phone, facetime."

Knowing the importance of these relationships, some pairs had to get more creative than others.

“Even still the populations we serve might not have more than a cell phone connection in terms of data so we definitely have had to get creative so we have busted out a pen and paper and written letters,” said Kaiser.

Mentors like Vergene Knudson who’s been with her little for eight years knows this experience is tough on the kids.

“They miss their friends, they miss school, even though school itself maybe isn’t the attraction, the social part is the attraction, so they miss that,” said Knudson.

Thankfully the pair won’t lose touch.

Although not always the same as before, Knudson and her little have been able to meet outside and do activities such as painting rocks together.

Knudson told WEAU,

“I think we have met the challenges to overcome the pandemic issues we’ve had. It’s probably not perfect but that’s all about what being a big and a little are.”

Of all the challenges faced, volunteer recruitment is where the organization needs the most help, according to Kaiser.

“We run a waiting list of about 150 children all year … getting someone to commit to this friendship making activity is kind of hard in the times we’re living in right now,” Kaiser said.

Mentors spend one hour per week with their littles, building a relationship for at least one year. Mentors can get involved by visiting their website.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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