By Marisa Palmieri
This is the third in a series of four stories featuring member agencies of United Appeal for Athens County. United Appeal is a collaborative fund-raising agency made up of 13 social and health service agencies located in Athens County.
Based on the same principals as this year's United Appeal for Athens County campaign theme - "Do Something Big," - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Athens County (BBBS) is evidence that a collection of small acts of kindness can equal something big, and make a difference in someone's life.
"'Do Something Big' in my mind means lots of people doing something small adding to something big," says Amy Reinhardt, director of BBBS of Athens County. "It means being part of a collective effort to raise money that will stay in Athens County."
"[BBBS] is a valuable youth organization for United Appeal, it is able to make a difference in both the lives of the youths and in the lives of the folks who volunteer," says Pam Harvey, director of United Appeal.
An affiliate of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, BBBS of Athens County supports the traditional BBBS program as well as several other community- and school-based initiatives.
The traditional one-to-one BBBS mentoring program sets up an adult who is at least 19 years old with a 6- to 16-year-old child from a single parent home or similar circumstances. The program is designed to give the child additional adult companionship, guidance and understanding, Reinhardt says.
Whether they go to the park, play board games or go to the movies the Bigs and Littles meet at least once a week to spend time together and cultivate a positive reciprocal relationship.
BBBS of Athens County also supports the Positive Partners Program for children who may be involved in the court system or are troubled in other areas, as well as partnerships in the Alexander and Nelsonville-York school districts that involve high school or junior high students mentoring junior high and elementary students. The Athens City School District will soon be home to one of these partnerships.
By the end of 2003 BBBS of Athens County projects that it will have served 225 individual children though its variety of programs.
Reinhart says the University plays a huge role in the success of BBBS of Athens County. "[Ohio University] is essential - at any given time approximately 75 percent of our Bigs come from the OU student body," she says. Reinhart credited the University's faculty and staff, the Center for Community Service, Order of Omega and the Greek community for providing financial support and hosting activities for BBBS.
"[BBBS] really is a long term involvement for the mentors," Harvey says. "It's a great way to build relationships in the community."
For more information or to get involved contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Athens County at (740) 594-3395.
To donate to United Appeal contact Nancy Crist at 593-1804 or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact United Appeal directly at 592-1293.
Marisa Palmieri is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.