DeKALB – The local Big Brothers Big Sisters program was looking to get 30 men to volunteer as big brothers in 30 days.
BBBS Director Courtney Denison said their “30 Men in 30 Days” initiative drew nine male volunteers, which is not enough people to mentor the 30 boys on their waiting list.
“Instead of asking for money around Christmas, we’re asking for the commitment of time to a child,” Denison said.
Denison said they rolled out the program fairly quickly in response to the success of a similar initiative in McHenry County. But Denison said she realized that DeKalb County has fewer marketing opportunities than McHenry County.
In DeKalb County, BBBS operates out of the Family Service Agency at 14 Health Services Drive in DeKalb.
The last event of the program was Monday’s Buffalo Wild Wings dinner, at which potential male mentors would eat free if they signed up. Denison said that although many people showed up carrying coupons that had a portion of the night’s proceeds go to the agency, no one signed up to be a volunteer.
Denison said the average time the 30 boys have been waiting for a big brother is about a year.
“We don’t match on a first-come, first-served basis,” Denison said, adding that they match up a big brother’s interests with a little brother’s. “There’s a lot of things that come into the play.”
The average age of little brothers in the program is between 7 and 13 years old, with most of them coming from single-mother homes, Denison said.
“A lot of them started out in the program saying they need a strong male role model ... but now they’re taking anyone,” Denison said. “It’s not that the parents are bad, but it’s that they need someone else to talk to.”
Denison said they have had volunteers who were college students, married men with children of their own, and seniors with no children all become big brothers.
“All of them are wonderful in their own way,” Denison said.
Until they re-launch “30 Men in 30 Days,” Denison said the staff at BBBS will have to step up and try to take some of the children under their wing. The staff at BBBS, however, is Denison and one other person. This arrangement can lead to long work hours, but Denison said it is necessary.
“We never want a child to feel unloved in our program,” Denison said. “They are people we truly care about.”