Area Big Brothers program puts out call for mentors

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program that serves four area counties needs more volunteers.

Jessica Walters, program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Oil Region, which includes Venango, Clarion, Forest and Crawford counties, said the agency is looking for more mentors.

Walters explained that Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national 1 to 1 mentoring program, and she said “children identified as needing additional positive guidance are referred to the program.”

The children, referred to in the program as “Littles,” are matched with volunteering adults called “Bigs.”

Walters said the local program currently has 39 matches of Big-Little pairs, but about 40 children are waiting for a match.

Statistics have shown that youths matched with mentors are more likely to avoid risky behaviors such as drugs and alcohol, make more responsible decisions, attend school more regularly, achieve higher grades, and have a better relationship with their caregiver and peers, according to Walters.

Matches meet together once or twice a month to participate in various activities in the community and spend time getting to know one another, Walters said.

Youths are also more likely to volunteer within the community where they live and become mentors for other community members, and bigs and littles are more likely to become involved in events where they live.

Adults thinking about becoming a Big Brother must be over 18 and no longer in high school, and they must pass a background check and an interview process.

Walters added the most important requirement is a willingness to have fun and get to know a local youngster.

“Being a part of the program gives kids opportunities they may not have had before, and it gives them a chance to have someone be a positive influence in their life,” Walters said. “Adults get the opportunity to make a difference in their community and see life again through a child’s eyes.”

Locally, Big Brothers Big Sisters is a program of Family Service and Children’s Aid Society and is supported by the United Way.

The agency’s major fundraiser, the annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake event, will be held Saturday, April 1, at Seneca Lanes.

Interested people can contact Walters at (814) 676-9940, extension 28, or by email at for more information about the program.