RBHS students, community members reach out to young people
By Brandi Miller
For the FCT
Turn on the news, any station, and it doesn’t take long to see that many kids today are lacking for a positive role model or influence in their life – someone they can look up to, model themselves after or go to for advice. This is one reason the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is so important for many children. This program provides that positive role model and influence that can make a huge difference in the life of a child.
“BBBS is a mentoring program,” said Red Bay High School BBBS sponsor Bea Hardin. “A high school student or an adult from the community volunteers as a mentor to a younger child. As a mentor they are matched with children in Red Bay school. They become that child’s special friend and role model offering attention, support and encouragement.”
Hardin, who is beginning her third year as the BBBS mentoring coordinator, is diligent in choosing mentors and always tries to provide the best match between mentor and child.
“Students who wish to apply to be a mentor submit an application, and on that application, there is a space for referrals from teachers, administrators, or school nurse,” said Hardin. “I use those referrals along with attendance records, and they must have a least a C average and be 15 years old.”
Once student mentors are chosen, the process to place them with a child begins. Mentors visit their child once a week in school. The average session with a child will last 30 minutes to one hour that day.
“The most important thing a mentor can do for a little (mentee) is to be a friend,” said Hardin. “To listen, give advice if asked and have fun is so important. The mentor may help with classwork, play games, read together, talk about families and each other, enjoy a hobby, work on a puzzle, or do crafts together.”
Besides the reward of being able to make a difference in the life of a child, BBBS provides scholarship opportunities that can make a difference in the life of the mentor as well. All seniors who participate in BBBS and are continuing on to college are eligible to apply for a scholarship that is sponsored through BBBS.
“I have so many wonderful memories from BBBS,” said Hardin, “but the one that stands out the most to me was this past semester, when I presented my mentors with their scholarships. It was the first year to give them out, and it was very touching.”
At the present time, BBBS is only at Red Bay High School in Franklin County and is sponsored by Sunshine. Hardin said they also service children in programs in Colbert and Lauderdale counties. Any schools that would like to see BBBS program begin at their schools can contact Gina Mashburn at email@example.com. For local interest Hardin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hardin said anyone who has questions or is interested can go to www.bbbsshoals.org for more information or for signing up a child.