LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The month of January represents "National Mentoring Month," and because of this, (BBBS) Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region wanted to highlight the importance of mentorship.
The national non-profit organization BBBS started back in 1904. BBBS connects caring adults (Bigs) to children (Littles), ages five through young adulthood in communities across the country, so that children can be mentored and have a positive role model in their life.
Jason Larsen, Executive Director for BBBS of the 7 Rivers Region, said as of 2020, there are 75 kids on the waiting-match list in La Crosse, the vast majority are boys, meaning male mentors are much needed.
"A lot of these boys have never had a positive male adult role model." Larsen said, "Because we have so many boys looking for male mentors, we are always emphasizing the male volunteer."
Joe Zoellner, a Big with BBBS of the 7 Rivers Region, said he is fortunate to have had fantastic role models in his life to help him grow up to be the man he is, and that being a Big is his way of giving back.
"I think there are a lot of little life lessons children can learn from good role models, whether its remember to say 'please and thank you.' Zoellner said, "We all need to learn from someone positive to help us grow up, and my Little gets that stuff at home, but a little reinforcement is helpful."
Larsen said many think a Bigs role is to be a parent figure for the Little, but that is far from it, one of the biggest misconceptions.
"A Big does not take over the role of a parent, a lot of kids need something more, and that is where Big Brothers Big Sisters come into play," said Larsen.
Larsen said across the state of Wisconsin, decades of research shows 95% of children in the program showed improvement in grades, less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and less likely to skip school.
"We just have a myriad of evidence that what kids need is a strong caring and supportive adult role model to help them on their road to success," said Larsen.
If you would like to sign up and take the leap to become a Big, you can hop on their website to fill out an application or give BBBS of the 7 Rivers Region a call at (608) 782-2227.