Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina is a United Way agency serving young people in Western North Carolina since 1982.

They currently cover ten counties, matching children ages 6 to 14 from single-parent families with caring, adult mentors.

“Bigs” and “Littles” spend time together forming a friendship. In the site-based program, Bigs and Littles see each other at the child’s school or after-school program. They spend time playing games, completing homework and having lunch together.

“We leave the referrals up to the after school staff and the school counselor. and the teachers determine who they feel really needs it most,” said Jamye Davis, assistant director.

Big Brother Big Sister of Western North Carolina has three main programs:

Traditional: Volunteers ages 18 and older are matched with children from single-parent families for activities two times a month. Matches spend time doing fun, simple things. Volunteers must be willing to make an initial one year commitment.

Mentors and Matches: Volunteers ages 16 and older are paired with elementary-aged youth for fun activities one hour each week at the child’s school. Mentors commit to one calendar year.

After school mentor: Volunteers ages 16 and older are paired with a young person for fun activities one hour each week at the child’s after-school program site. Volunteers commit to one calendar year.

“A lot of the kids we’re working with, again, education is not always the highest emphasis at home. A lot of the kids don’t hear the word college they don’t have that idea planted in their head so working with a college student….We want college students to, like, talk about what it’s like at college and what they’re taking,” said Davis.

For the traditional program, which is community-based, there is a waiting list that the children’s parent/guardian must be placed on until a mentor is matched with one of those kids.
Davis said they have a great need for mentors, partly because people are so busy, partly because there is just a plethora of nonprofits in Asheville that just spreads people out.

In January 2014, MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership released a report that gives voice to young people’s insights about the role of mentoring in their lives. The report, The Mentoring Effect, confirms that mentoring has a significant impact that results in positive outcomes for the youth involved. These critical relationships connect youth to social and economic opportunity. Through their success the mentoring effect has the potential to strengthen families, schools, businesses and communities.

With the help of a network of donors, partners, family members and advocates, Big Brothers Big Sisters carefully matches youth facing adversity with caring, adult role models.
Davis explained that girls are matched in the program with a mentor quicker than boys. “The boys, they’re waiting about nine months to even start the enrollment process.”

Research shows that children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are more likely to improve in school and in their relationships with family and friends and less likely to skip school or use illegal drugs or alcohol.

An event coming up:
Run for Kids’ Sake Off Road 10-mile/5K
Saturday, June 11, 2016 – Warren Wilson College campus

This unique course is scenic and mostly off-road on trails and unpaved roads. No dogs or strollers. The 5K is open to runners and walkers. Start times: 10-mile at 8:30; 5K at 8:45. Cost: $45 for the 10-mile and $25 for the 5K through June 8 ($50 for the 10-mile and $30 for the 5K after June 8). All proceeds benefit the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Buncombe County.

More information can be found on their website