Matching bigs with littles

Published on Thu, Oct 11, 2001
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Matching bigs with littles

Having fun is something Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) take seriously. “She is young, exciting and a joy to be with,” said Gina Ball of her 13 year old ‘little sister.’ Ball, a full time massage therapist who also volunteers at the cancer center and the fire station, has been a Big Sister for seven months. “I wanted to serve the people here,” Ball, a Point Roberts resident said. “There was no one on the Point but Blaine had some kids on a waiting list.”

“It is easier than ever before to help a child celebrate the simple joys of everyday life,” said Jim Boyle, chief of staff for BBBS, a program that places people in the lives of children to be a friend, and role model for their future. “What we hear from volunteers is that it is just a lot of fun. It gives them a chance to capture the simple joys of everyday life and an opportunity to be a kid again,” Boyle said.

Ball had an extensive background check and was trained before she was set up with her little sister. “We bounced ideas around and spent quality time together before the match was made,” Ball said.

Most every week since, Ball has found a time to get together with her little sister, usually after school. “She likes to rollerblade,” Ball said. “I had always wanted to learn how so it worked out perfect.” Ball said that being a big sister is definitely a commitment, but one she looks forward to. “You’ve got to choose something you get a kick out of,” she said. “There are so many things you can do to help people, so much that needs to be done.”

One of the things Boyle stressed about the program is that not only are you having fun and enjoying yourself, but you also have the chance to make a difference. A child matched with a big brother or sister, is likely to do better in school, less likely to use drugs or alcohol and can build a better relationship with their family and friends, Boyle said. “There is so much going on in the world, a lot of it negative, but by participating you can bring magic into a child’s life.”

Ball said that she and her ‘little’ spend time baking, playing catch, going to movies or doing anything active and outdoors. They chat about what is going on in life. Ball stressed that as a volunteer, you aren’t trying to mold kids, but be there for them, leading by example. “You are just there for them to talk to and have a good time with, to be a stable presence in their life,” Ball said.

Currently in Blaine there are three boys and four girls on the waiting list which is small compared to the 30 girls and 50 boys on the Whatcom county waiting list. Upcoming activities put on by BBBS include an ice cream social at the Malt Shop in Bellingham and a tour of the Fire department in November and a Craft activity in December. “These are great for kids who haven’t been matched to check it out from a distance or for kids who have been matched and can participate with the support and encouragement of their big brother or sister,” said Carrie Bishop Cruz, the core program coordinator. “We want to get kids learning new skills and having fun.”

In addition to the core mentoring program, BBBS is offering a campus buddies and school buddies program for college students and volunteers who want to help out in the school.

“It’s almost like scheduling playtime for me. It’s my time to have fun too, so it’s great,” Ball said. For more information call Jim Boyle at 671-6400 ext.7. .

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