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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Big Brothers, Big Sisters to come back to county

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  • COUNTY - Jackie Yamialkowski was a bundle of excitement last week. Why was she so excited? The Waymart native is involved in bringing back the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program to serve children in Wayne County. Recruitment and Engagement Coach for BBBS of Lackawanna, Susquehanna, Wayne and Pike Counties in conjunction with AmeriCorpsVISTA, Yamialkowski is eager to hit the ground running and jump start the program once again. "I did Big Brothers Big Sisters in college," she said. "I am looking forward to help bring the program back to Wayne County." During a forum held by Wayne Peace, program director Cindy Beeman elaborated on what the BBBS program does. "Big Brothers Big Sisters operates under the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life," she said. The majority of children served by BBBS are in single-parent, low-income families or in households where a parent is incarcerated. BBBS works by utilizing a mentor-called a Big- and matching them up with a child-called a Little. Beeman also pointed out that independent research done on the effectiveness of the BBBS program yielded positive results. The results of that study elucidated that 46 percent of children involved are less likely to start using illegal drugs. Twenty-seven percent of Littles are less likely to start using alcohol, 57 percent are less likely to skip school and 33 percent less likely to hit another person. Another benefit of the BBBS program is it helps children get a boost in their confidence. The same survey showed 98 percent of children matched with a caring adult exhibit an improvement in their confidence. Yamialkowski said BBBS is serving over 200 children and families in Lackawanna County. "We served 262 matches. That would be 524 Bigs and Littles," she said. "We currently have 106 children on the waiting list for a mentor. Thirteen of those children are right here in Wayne County." Yamialkowski first became involved with BBBS while studying for her bachelor's degree at Slippery Rock University. She is currently enrolled at the University of Kentucky to earn her master's degree in Arts Administration. "There are two types of programs associated with BBBS," she said. Her introduction to BBBS was with the site-based program. "The site-based program is done in more of a group setting, usually in churches or schools," Yamialkowski said. "It has less of the one-on-one component." The second type of program is what the local chapter of BBBS is hoping begin here in Wayne County. The community-based mentoring program provides each Little with his or her own Big. "Big's get the chance to do things like play catch or take a walk," Yamialkowski said. How to help There are many ways the community can get involved and help out the program. "We are in the planning stages of our annual fundraiser, Bowl for Kids' Sake," she said. "We are also hoping to hold a bingo fundraiser as a kick-off event for Bowl for Kids' Sake." Yamialkowski added that BBBS is looking for volunteers to apply to become a Big. "We have a great need for male Bigs. We have children on the waiting list specifically waiting for a male mentor." Volunteers to help organize the upcoming fundraisers are also needed. "We are in the planning stages of getting Big Brothers Big Sisters back in Wayne County," Yamialkowski said. To learn more about how to volunteer or apply to become a Big, contact BBBS at 570-347-5616 ext.3329 or visit www.nepabbbs.org. Monetary donations are also needed and can be mailed to Big Brothers Big Sisters, 538 Spruce Street, Scranton, PA, 18503.
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