Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

August 24, 2013

Big Brothers-Big Sisters in need of GES lunch buddies

By Brent Brown Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG – Big Brothers-Big Sisters (BBBS)of Decatur County has been making a difference in the lives of local children for more than three decades.

With the school year just beginning, organizers of BBBS are busy trying to fill spots in their popular “AIM” (Achievement Involving Mentors) program. The AIM program allows local elementary students the opportunity to have lunch with an adult once per week at their respective schools, forging friendships and paving the way for additional positive influences in a young person’s life.

This year’s crop of youngsters most in need are those at Greensburg Elementary School (GES) where approximately 30 mentors are needed for children awaiting a “lunch buddy” in the program, according to a BBBS newsletter. Each lunch meeting lasts about 30 minutes and allows students to chat with their adult “lunch buddy” and play games with him or her on the stage of the GES cafeteria or in the school’s science lab. It’s half an hour that often winds up being one of the highlights of a child’s week.

GES Principal Rock Linville is a proponent of the program, and he emphasized the positive impact he’s seen the AIM initiative have on children throughout the years. At present, approximately 90 GES students are enrolled in the program, Linville said, which runs each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Greensburg Elementary.

The principal stated children may be recommended for the program by teachers but stressed there is no particular set of criteria necessary for a child to become a part of BBBS’ AIM. He added that BBBS performs a thorough background screenings on all adults prior to allowing them entry to the program. Students and their “lunch buddies” will meet only once per week at the school, unless the adult mentor wishes to enroll in BBBS’ separate Community program.

But that short 30 minutes just might mean the world to a child.

“It gives them (the students) someone to talk with who is an active listener,” Principal Linville said Friday. “It’s so important to these kids.”

Stories from BBBS are similar, noting both the kids and the adults involved in the program go their separate ways with a renewed spirit after the visits. “We all get a lunch break and it is not only rewarding to meet with the kids, but we feel rejuvenated and ready to go back to work with more energy for the rest of the day,” one mentor shared with staff of BBBS.

BBBS Executive Director Bev Karaszia has mentioned time and again that students enrolled in the program typically see improved grades and attendance in addition to developing greater self-esteem.

Students of GES are not the only local children serviced by the AIM program.

St. Mary’s Elementary students meet with mentors Tuesdays.

Their counterparts at South Decatur Elementary meet each Wednesday while North Decatur Elementary School students spend time with their lunch buddies each Thursday.

More information about the AIM program and Big Brothers-Big Sisters in general can be found at www.bbbsgreensburg.org.

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056