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Big Brothers Big Sisters relaunches Barbershop Tour recruitment program

Big Brothers Big Sisters relaunches Barbershop Tour recruitment program

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A central Indiana mentoring program hopes to recruit more people while they get lined up at the barbershop.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana relaunched its Barbershop Tour this month. Throughout July, the nonprofit is partnering with 14 local barbershops to fill a need for mentors, or “Bigs.”

Community Engagement Manager Eric Saunders says they need more men to sign up.

“Barbers have definitely a great connection with men in the community,” Saunders said. “That’s what we need. … A lot of the youth that are waiting to have a mentor in our program are young men. About 75% of the kids [that] are waiting are young men.”

Every year, they create or support 1,100 Big-Little relationships with their programming.

During the Barbershop Tour, barbers will talk to their customers about becoming mentors for the group.

“We want people to feel like, ‘Hey, I can have an impact,’” Saunders said. “People need people to connect with… We got to get back to connecting with one another and seeing how we can do this together.”

The tour program is a revival of a similar initiative from the 2010s.

This year’s barbershops are also engaging in a bit of a friendly competition. The shop with the most Bigs recruited will win a new set of capes.

The nonprofit’s leaders say kids are feeling lonelier and less engaged in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A potential big will help establish a sense of connection to a Little’s community while helping them develop as a person.

Saunders cited some benefits to joining the cause. “We provide low-cost, no-cost activity, and then you have this lifelong connection,” he said. “I was a Big Brother in the program and I didn’t realize how much I would just get out of … how to meet youth where they’re at. Just being able to adapt and to support and see things that they can’t see.”

A person must be 19 or older to become a mentor, and live or work in Marion, Hamilton, or Johnson counties to become a Big. People interested in joining the program should visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana website.