The CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring says every successful adult can think of someone who influenced them. Amy Kuchta says that’s why the organization is looking to add more mentors in Southwest Michigan.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter serves Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Van Buren and Allegan Counties. What started as Big Brothers of Greater Kalamazoo in 1958 is marking its 60th anniversary. Kuchta says the campaign to find more mentors is a major part of the anniversary celebration.
The goal is to add enough mentors to help another 300 children. Kuchta says it’s “a stretch goal,” but she thinks it can be reached. She says a mentor sees potential in a child, and helps that child reach their goals.
In terms of becoming a mentor, Kuchta says it’s less complicated than people may think. She says mentors are asked for a minimum of a year. They’re expected to spend time with the child they are mentoring twice a month. There is a volunteer orientation to make sure that potential mentors are aware of expectations. Kuchta says it’s also a way for a volunteer to determine if they want to take part, at least right now. Kuchta says there is also an effort to match mentors and children. There is an existing program for LGBT students that matches them with mentors who are also LGBT.
Asked about how Big Brothers Big Sisters has changed, Kuchta says they have tried to be more creative and remove barriers for people who want to volunteer. She says that includes allowing families to mentor a child. Kuchta says that allows people to mentor while not taking time away from their own family. She says for the future Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring wants to make sure children are ready for post-secondary success. She says that should include options for skilled trades.