Become a Big Brother or Sister

By Linda Luk

Local programs seek volunteers to become Big Brothers, Big Sisters or committee members for their annual charity event, Bowl for Kids’ Sake.

Every year, the Family Service Agency of DeKalb hosts Bowl for Kids’ Sake to raise money in support of the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program that benefits children in DeKalb.

“They have two different mentoring programs,” said Jill Soyka, a Bowl for Kids’ Sake intern. “There is a school-based program where adults and teenagers can come to the school for an hour a week to talk, read or just hang out, to be their friend, basically.”

The other program is community based, Soyka said. Volunteers spend a few hours weekly with a child and do activities together. The Big Brothers-Big Sisters program also sponsors free events throughout the year for pairs to attend.

“We have a lot more requests this year,” said Nancy Marchiando, coordinator of special events and community relations for the Family Service Agency. “I think it is because of what is going on in the county. A lot of people moving in and the community itself is growing. I think that’s the big reason why.”

The program serves students ages five to 18 who usually are referred to the program by teachers or parents. The program seeks volunteers 16 and older to become Big Brothers and Big Sisters, said Cheryl Maldonado, director of Big Brothers-Big Sisters.

Volunteers participating in the school program will be asked to commit for a school year, and individuals participating in the community program will be asked for a one-year commitment as well.

This year, Bowl for Kids’ Sake will be held at NIU’s Huskie Den on Feb. 17-19.

“Bowl for Kids’ Sake is an annual event that raises anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program,” Soyka said. “People can form teams and get pledges and come to our bowling day and bowl.”

In preparation for the big event, the program seeks volunteers to be committee members.

“For committee members, you have to go to seven different meetings,” Soyka said. “Committee members target specifically the NIU community to help promote the event.”

They are looking for people to work as a team, to help recruit teams on campus and to help out on bowling day, Maldonado said. She added that they can use as many people as they can get.

This year will be the 21st annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake. Last year, the event raised up to 64 percent of the budget for the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program.

“It is an excellent way to help out with the program, even if they can’t be a Big Brother or Big Sister,” Maldonado said. “It is a short commitment and a way to help us out.”

To become a Big Brother, Big Sister or committee member, call Nancy or Cheryl at the Family Service Agency at 758-8616.