GREENVILLE — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Shelby and Darke Counties conducted an open house Saturday night, partnering with the Holiday Horse Parade, and held an hour before the parade.
The event offered activities and refreshments for the youth at the local office, at 205 E. Fourth St., Greenville. The purpose of the open house was to learn about the programs that Big Brothers Big Sisters offers.
Becca Cotterman, program coordinator, set up the Darke County open house. She said there are 25 volunteers in this area and noted that there are 20 students at Ansonia in the Big Buddies program as well as 22 in each of Greenville and Versailles.
Big Buddies, it was explained, is an after-school program utilizing high school volunteers who meet with their assigned child two times per month throughout the school day.
“High school students can volunteer to be Big Buddy for this program and will be matched one-on-one with an elementary student,” she said. “We are needing a few people for Ansonia, but we do have one-on-one in both Greenville and Versailles. Children in the program have to be between the ages of 5 and 18.”
Cotterman, who is also a Big Sister, said there is also an adult program.
“We have no background checks for high-school students, because we are always with them, but we do have it in our adult program,” she said. “For adults, we do background checks, motor vehicle checks and sex offender checks.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters became a reality in Shelby County in 1977 and in Darke County in 1993.”
Among the youthful participants attending the open house was Deydron, 12, and Kindra, 15.
Deydron came to the open house with his Big Brother, Jamie Best of Greenville, and Best’s girlfriend, Sara Morrow of Troy, who is also striving to become a Big Sister.
“I have been a Big Brother to Dreydon for 1 1/2 years,” Best said. “We get along. We’re a good match. We go hunting, fishing, trapping and camping. This is his first year for hunting and trapping. We’re working on rabbit hunting next. Big Brothers Big Sisters does a good screening before they leave you in. I’d like to see lots of people get involved. There are a lot of children here who need this.”
Kindra is a Little Sister to Big Sister Christy Baker, who oversees Darke County United Way.
“I think it’s really fun,” said Kindra. “I get to watch movies instead of watching them on a DVD player.”
Baker said she and Kindra have been a match for nearly a year. Baker’s own son, Josh, joins them most of the time.
“Kindra is a little introverted,” Christy said. “She comes over and hangs out with us.”
Cotterman has been on staff of Big Brothers Big Sisters for three years and has volunteered more than two years with a Little Sister.
“I still do things with my Little Sister,” she said. “I get attached to kids. I’m almost 26 and this is my first professional job in life.”
The former Becca Lennartz, she is a 2013 graduate of The Ohio State University, where she majored in social work.
“I graduated in May and came here to Big Brothers Big Sisters in August of 2013 and have been here ever since,” said the program coordinator who married in May of 2014 Daniel Cotterman, whom she met in college.
Jennifer Bruns is executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Shelby and Darke County. Serving on the board of officers Angie Ross, president; Chad Beanblossom, vice president; Peggy Foutz, secretary; James Lehmkuhl, treasurer; and Greg Zechar, past president. Additional board members are Peggy Baird, Cathy Bevan, Velina Bogart, Jane Carroll, Barbara Dulworth, Terri Flood, Keith Foutz, Carol Johnson, David Keiser, Lauren Lee, Tom Martin, Mike Rosengarten, Leslie Schweitzer, Linda Searls, Tonya Slonaker, Mike Snyder and Melissa Wood.
The mission of the organization is “to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”
It is said that today, the program is serving more children than ever with innovative programming that will impact the communities on an even larger scale.
Some of the other services offered are: Community Based Programs; Couples Match Program; Big Buddies High School Mentoring Programs; Middle School Workforce Mentoring; and High School Teen Mentoring.
Those interested in becoming a volunteer may contact the Big Brothers Big Sisters, and an interview will be set up. Once the screening process is completed and the agency feels that a person meets the requirements, he/she will be contacted about a child that is waiting for a volunteer mentor to be matched with.
Volunteers are expected to spend time with their assigned child “Little” two times per month. Outings should focus on enhancing the child emotionally, socially and or academically.
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.