Need for Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors grows

(WISH Photo/Drew Blair)
(WISH Photo/Drew Blair)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – With summer’s start came a growing need for quality role models for central Indiana youth, according to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana.

The organization said it expected its waiting list of as many as 600 children looking to be matched with adult mentors to grow as schools dismissed.

The group hosted the annual SummerFest on Sunday for more than 1,100 matches while hoping to encourage more “Bigs” to volunteer.

CEO Darcey Palmer-Shultz did not look at the waiting list of need as true deficit.

“The really great thing about that is, there are a lot of kids and a lot of parents that want to help get kids on the right path. They sign up for our program because we can be a good partner to helping them do that,” Palmer-Shultz said.

Markail, 13, and his Big Brother, Ryan Langwald, provided an example of what the program of partnership can be all about while at SummerFest. The two were matched about a year and a half ago.

“It’s something to talk about when I’m older; share with my future children, future wife and just built me as a better man today,” Markail said of his relationship with Langwald, who said he shared a mutual reward.

“We joke around a lot and we don’t really get that deep a lot of the time but to hear him say that, that makes me feel good,” Langwald said.

Palmer-Shultz hoped more people would be inspired by how meaningful the process could be. She said there has been a greater need for men and couples to volunteer to mentor boys who make up 70 percent of the waiting list.

Children can sign up for Big Brothers Big Sisters starting at eight years old and until the age of 18.

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