Insider perspective of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri

The team members feel the work of the company has impacted the lives of children immensely.

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“Littles” that are a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri have the opportunity to grow and develop with the help and companionship of their “bigs,” such as how Rob helps his little, Landon. Landon does not have a father figure in his life and Rob provides support by being a role model and spending quality time with him each day. Last names were not provided by the agency to ensure the privacy of the participants.

“I’ve seen [that Landon’s] social interaction in public places has improved,” Rob said. “He’s showing more focus and he’s listening more. We sit and talk about his day and talk about things that maybe he’s not able to communicate with his mom at home.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters assists children facing adversity by providing support. Adults are considered “bigs” and children in elementary and middle school, are considered “littles.” Pairs are matched by the company for the intention of helping the children with their mental development via a positive relationship with a role model. Drew Bennett, the outreach and development manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters, feels the investments the company has made are effective and have proven to be successful. “This organization does a really fantastic job of investing in our future, investing in our kids and investing in the potential of our kids and our community that might be at risk,” Bennett said.

Aleshia Marso, the program manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri, also believes the efforts of the company to assist the children have proven to be beneficial. Marso enjoys seeing the matches together, especially the matches she has made. “The very first match I founded was in April of 2015” Marso said. “This duo is still together, so occasionally I get to talk to them and it’s just really cool to see how everybody has grown and that they’re still doing really good work together.”

Marso said even when some bigs have moved away, they make an effort to maintain a relationship with their little, such as one individual who moved to the Kansas City area but consistently came back to the Columbia area to visit her little.

Bennett feels compelled to contribute to the company on a daily basis in order to help the children in the Columbia community. He enjoys his work in raising money and recruiting to help the kids each day. He also said the gratitude and appreciation from the children is evident in their politeness and excitement which makes him more motivated to advocate for the company’s mission.

Bennett said Big Brothers Big Sisters held a back-to-school event this year where school supplies and backpacks were provided for the littles.

“It was a really rewarding experience to watch the smiles on their faces and just how happy and thankful they were to have the opportunity to have new school supplies for the beginning of the school year,” Bennett said.

Marso feels personally positively impacted by the work she does. She said she finds it fascinating to see the matches together, especially when she feels connected to the matches she picked and it enhances the company’s mission.

“I feel really good about the work that I do and the mission of the agency and so it feels good to feel good about what you’re doing,” Marso said. “I really believe in the mission. I think getting kids a supportive adult in their life can definitely be something that can be life-changing.”

Bennett believes the only negative impact he has seen is the false ideas about what the children are like from outsiders.

“I think a common misperception about the kids that we serve is that they’re not good kids or that they’re bad kids, when in fact a lot of our kids are really nice and really caring individuals,” Bennett said. “At that back-to-school event I referred to before, every single kid came by and said thank you and showed their appreciation for the items we gave them.”

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri team works to take care of the kids and build relationships with them. They have witnessed first-hand how children are learning about important life skills. Over the past year, the company has served 284 kids.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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