CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati mentored more than 1,200 children in 2012. This year, program officials say they're facing a serious shortage of volunteers.
Saint Francis Seraph School in Over-the-Rhine is one of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) site-based programs. It means the volunteers come in once a week to have lunch with their "little brother or sister," but that short visit can mean a lot to a child.
Nine-year-old Sidni Oyakhari has been paired with her 'big sister' Erin Sunderman. They get together every Friday to hang out, play games and just talk.
"She's nice and she spends a lot of time with me. She tells me about her life, and I tell her about mine," Sidni explained.
Sunderman has three children of her own, but she says she values her time with Sidni.
"We've built a relationship, and I find it very rewarding. She has somebody she can talk to that's not a teacher and not a parent. She can tell me about anything she wants and build that trust relationship, and I like being able to be there for her," Sunderman said.
BBBS Vice President of Programs Donna Hermann-Vogel says the friendship between the kids and their mentors are long-lasting.
"There's often a very strong bond that forms between the big and the little. We'll have matches that have been together for years and years, and they'll become part of one another's family," Hermann-Vogel explained.
There are hundreds of kids on the waiting list for a mentor, so big brothers like Tim Klauke are in high demand.
"We do things. It's fun. Makes me feel good. When I leave here I feel good like I've helped somebody out," Klauke said of his little brother in the program.
There are several site-based programs like these all across the Cincinnati area, which makes it convenient. Volunteers will tell you that a little bit of time goes a long way.
Organizers say there are so many boys on the waiting list for a big brother, they've put a freeze on applications.
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor for BBBS can learn more here: www.bigsforkids.org