ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marion County program has begun receiving installment payments on a $50,000 grant from the United Methodists Health Ministries Fund.
Kimberly Jost, director of the program, said Robi Alstrom, Peabody, board president, was responsible for filling out the necessary grant application forms and “getting the ball rolling.”
Jost said the total installment for the first year of the three-year program would be $20,000. The sum will be used to start the program.
“It takes about $1,000 to $1,500 per match to match a child with an adult,” Jost said. “Just to do the child’s interviews and paperwork takes about 10 hours.
“Right now we have seven matches we are servicing. After the board meets again within the next couple of weeks, I believe we will have another four to five matches, and we are working on still more.”
Jost said it is more expensive for Marion County matches than Sedgwick County matches because of the time and mileage involved in visits and interviews.
To receive the second-year installment of $15,000, Marion County Big Brothers Big Sisters program must prove it is becoming a self-sufficient program and have about $15,000 to $20,000 in the bank by spring 2002.
Jost said the grant money is intended to establish a program and have it operating independently after the three years.
“So we will continue to have fund-raisers; we still need financial support and volunteers,” she said.
The third-year installment will be $15,000. Jost said if the program can make 38 matches in three years, it will receive an additional $10,000.
“I am not at all worried about making that goal,” she said. “We have had a tremendous response in Marion County.”
She says 40 children have been referred to the program to date from schools and parents.
Next year, plans call for adding a program to the “matching” program.
“It is called ‘Bigs in the School program,'” Jost said. “It is an in-school mentoring program which takes one hour once a week in the school.”
She said the amount of paperwork for the in-school program is significantly less, and allows more “Bigs” to become involved since less time is demanded.
“It is easier to commit to one hour a week at the school than the matching program,” Jost said. “It doesn’t require as much from the parents of the children either.”
Jost hopes to see more activities planned for the Bigs and Littles to come together and have fun.
“We appreciate all the support we have had from Marion County,” Jost said. “I see this program developing into a very successful program with the continued help and support of the people.”