Twenty local boys and girls briefly experienced what it’s like to be a Little Brother or Little Sister last Friday.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Forsyth County’s annual Big for a Day program gives kids currently on the agency’s waiting list a taste of what is hopefully to come. The kids, who are called “Littles” in the BBBS program, spent much of the day shadowing working professionals at places like Winston-Salem State University, Caterpillar, K&W Cafeterias, WXII Channel 12 News, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the United Way. The men and women who volunteered to serve as mentors for the day don’t necessarily have previous connections with BBBS, but BBBS Vice President of Development Pamela Suber said that is part of the point of Big for a Day.
“I think that a lot people think about being a volunteer but they don’t really know what they have to do, but once they meet the children and the children are easy to get along with … you can see it’s not that hard to talk to a child,” said Suber, who said BBBS generally signs up several adults after they’ve taken part in Big for a Day.
Big for a Day volunteer James Myers, a Wells Fargo commercial loan officer, began his day with 11-year-old Andre Walters by treating him to a big omelet in the cafeteria of the high-rise Wells Fargo Center downtown. He then took him on a tour of the building, including the 28th floor boardroom.
“It’s nice … it’s a big place,” an impressed Andre said of the massive building.
Myers, a father of two and member of the BBBS board, then got to work in his office, as Andre looked on. Andre even got to sit in on a conference call as Myers discussed a major loan.
Though Andre said he aspires to be a basketball or football player or work in a doctor’s office, he said seeing big banking up close was “cool.”
“It seemed hard, but then it seemed cool,” he said.
This was Myers’ second year signing on for Big for a Day. His workplace tour with Andre had another purpose. He hopes his co-workers took notice and that it sparks an interest.
“If it spurs one or two people to become active and become a Big (BBBS’ term for Big Brothers and Sisters), it makes the program worth it,” said Myers.
Andre is hoping for that too. He had a Big Brother, but he moved away, so Andre has been back on the agency’s waiting list for several months.
Two Littles joined their Bigs for the Day at Leonard Ryden Burr Real Estate for a morning of fun and games. Agent Sarah Wiles was teamed up with Malik Little, 7, while Agent Beverly Atwell had nine-year-old Zoesha Howard.
Wiles and Atwell temporarily put aside their busy property-selling schedules to entertain the kids with educational computer games and classic board games like Chutes and Ladders, which is kept on hand at the office to entertain the children of clients.
“It’s been fun; It’s been active,” said Atwell, a mother of three adult children and two grandchildren.
The kids’ presence created a buzz at the office. Wiles hopes the buzz will translate into positive results for BBBS.
“There are some people in the office since we’ve been walking about who are getting interested in participating because they see how great the kids are, how fun it is,” said Wiles.
The Big For a Day program ran concurrently with BBBS’ Take Your Little to Work Day, when current Bigs allowed their Littles to tag along with them at the office.
The day ended with a luncheon at Womble Carlyle hosted by WXII Anchor Wanda Stark, a longtime BBBS supporter.
Suber said there are currently 100 children in first through ninth grade on the BBBS’ waiting list. Littles are matched with Bigs of the same gender. On average, girls wait six months to a year and boys can wait as long as two years. A Big only needs to spend an hour a week with their Little for one year, doing whatever activities they both enjoy.
BBBS is holding an After Hours Social to recruit volunteers today (Thursday, Aug. 23) from 5-7 p.m. at the Old Winston Social Club, 1131 Burke St.
For information, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.bbbsnc.org” www.bbbsnc.org or call 724-7993.