Kent community volunteers as Big Sibs

Austin Farber

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program in Ravenna has too many kids to pair with adult mentors.

Mentors provide a much needed service to children, especially youngsters who are dealing with adversity.

Kent State students 18 and older are eligible to participate in the program. Volunteers are asked to make a one-year commitment to the program.

“You’re letting a kid know that someone in the world cares about them,” said the program’s director Andrea Neidert. “What greater cause could there be? The kids are so happy to see someone coming just to spend time with them.”

The program matches adult volunteers with kids in need of a mentor living in Portage County. Mentors will spend around 12 hours a month with their “Little,” doing various activities in the area.

Baking, crafts, movies, volunteering, bowling and trips to the zoo are just a few of the fun activities Bigs and Littles do together.

“It’s nice to have someone who has the time to do things that a busy family can’t always do,” said senior biology major Courtney Root, a volunteer of the program. “It’s really gratifying to see that you’re making an impact.”

Root, a resident of Kent, has been a Big Sister since June 2015. While Root and her Little enjoy baking cookies and volunteering at nursing homes, they also talk about difficult situations in life.

“College-aged adults can play a tremendous role in a child’s life by being able to relate to them,” Root said. “I would definitely recommend volunteering. It’s a great opportunity to help others and reflect on your own life.”

Kent resident Konnor Hummell just completed his first year as a Big Brother. His Little, Anthony, has grown up without a father and is being raised by a single mother. Hummell’s role as a mentor has allowed his Little to have a male role model.

“He doesn’t have any male role models in his life,” Hummell said. “We are able to open up and trust each other. I think I get as much out of it as he does.”

Austin Farber is a social services reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]