Big Brothers/Big Sisters serves Douglas and several other counties in northeast Kansas. The Northeast Area Director is Jeff Jack, a retired juvenile court judge and now an enthusiastic advocate for the non-profit.
Jack explained that in Kansas, the program focus is on at-risk youth ages 5 to 17. These youths face adversity for one reason or another and need an adult mentor and role model. About 85% of “littles” are from single-parent homes and/or live in poverty. Sixty percent come from environments involving drug and alcohol abuse; 40% have witnessed domestic violence; and 30% have an incarcerated parent.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters finds that 52% of the young people in the program are able to finish school, go on to further training or education, and become strong wage earners. Participants tend to avoid violence and drug/alcohol use.
Fifty-two “Littles” are waiting for a match in Douglas County. the program needs not only volunteers but also referals and contributions. Money raised in Douglas County stays in Douglas County, Jack declared. Two fundraisers are in planning stages: a Disc Golf Tournament on July 25 and a Gingerbread House Gala in December.
Big Brothers/Big Sisters creates life-long and life-changing friendships. One Rotary member noted that his wife was a Big Sister many years ago and that she still keeps in touch with her “Little” who has grown up to become a successful young woman.