Hundreds of Area Kids Wait for Big Brother/Big Sister - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/27/05

Hundreds of Area Kids Wait for Big Brother/Big Sister

There are hundreds of area kids on the list just waiting for a big brother or big sister. Right now, Big Brothers Big Sisters services about 400 - as they say- "bigs" and "littles." While the need is growing, the agency is forced to cut back . Little Brother Jonathan Gonzales says, "It's a good program to be in because, if you're a Little Brother, your Big Brother can teach you a lot of stuff."

When NewsChannel 11 caught up with them Friday, Jonathan and his Big Brother, Michael Smucker, were working on Jonathan's golf swing. Michael says, "I can go back to acting like a teenager and get away with it and he thinks it's great!"

Michael and Jonathan have been each other's little and big for a year and half. 11-year-old Jonathan lives with a great grandma he loves very much but he lacks a father figure. Having Michael around to help with his golf swing or simply go to lunch with has made a huge difference in Jonathan's life. He explains, "He teaches me a lot of stuff. He teaches me not to do bad choices and that stuff. He's a great guy."

127 young boys in Lubbock are on a waiting list for someone like Michael. At Big Brothers Big Sisters headquarters, they want to help, but United Way funding cuts and the need for more donations and fundraising leave the office with just three full-time employees who are already stretching themselves thin. Interim Executive Director, Cindy Miller, says, "We adjusted our budget luckily to accommodate that cut."

Miller says last month they matched 17 kids but then 30 more came into the program. She explains, "40% of kids in our program are less likely to use drugs, to use violence as a form of resolving a problem, less likely to skip school, their grades increase."

Jonathan is proof, just a few hours with a big brother a week can make a huge difference. He talks about his big brother saying, "He's pretty fun.. He can really teach people a lot of stuff. He's taught me a lot about golf. I've gotten into golf and he's nice." Michael says, "It's been very rewarding. It's worth the time. It's not a lot of effort. So, if someone is thinking about getting out and making a difference, I highly recommend this."

United Way helps service twenty-four agencies in Lubbock but they're hurting also. Their campaign came up 7% short this year and they've had to make cuts across the board. You can help Big Brothers Big Sisters by donating or volunteering your time. Call (806) 763-6131 for more information.

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