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Big Brothers/Big Sisters Annual Bowl for Kids’ Sake Event To Be Held Saturday, April 15

One of the most interesting and unique fundraising events that benefits worthy causes in the area is the annual “Bowl for Kids’ Sake” event that benefits Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania, which serves the Lycoming County area.

It takes place Saturday, April 15 from 12 p.m. to 3:30 Faxon Bowling Lanes. Bowl for Kids’ Sake is a national annual fundraising event benefitting all BB/BS programs across America. All the funds raised remain in the community where the event is held, supporting the mentoring relationships between child and volunteer. Bowl for Kid’s Sake is a fun and easy way for companies and individuals to make a difference in a child’s life. If you want to sign up individually or with a team, you can register online at Companies and individuals can also donate if they are unable to bowl.
Bowl for Kid’s Sake is their biggest fundraiser of the year, and they need bowlers. This is an amazingly easy and enjoyable way to support a program whose mission is to help children who are our future.
According to Mary Martin and Wala Tillman, Program Specialists for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Big Brother, and Big Sisters began in 1904 when a court clerk in New York saw the need for positive mentoring of boys who became involved with the court system. Today Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a 501 non-profit organization whose mission is to “create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.” Adult and older youth volunteers are matched with children ages 6 to 16. BB/BS is an evidence-based program that impacts our future generations. We know that youth that have participated in the program for at least 18 months are 46 percent less likely to use drugs, 27 percent less likely to use alcohol, 52 percent less likely to skip school, and 33 percent less likely to hit someone.

Becoming a Big is not difficult. Volunteer “Bigs” go through an approval process, including an interview, reference, and background checks. Once a “Big” is approved, they are matched with a waiting “Little.” “Bigs” and “Littles” are matched, having similar interests to encourage success. “Bigs” are asked to see their child on a consistent basis, weekly if possible. They spend time in the community engaging in various activities, from going for a walk, playing basketball, going to a park, or just getting ice cream. It is not about the activity; it is about the relationship, consistency, and care shown to a child. Matches are supported by staff through monthly contact. Staff is always available to offer support as needed. Several times a year, the program with program partners will hold group activities that allow other “Bigs” and “Littles” to meet and socialize with others who share the same hopes for the youth.

Lycoming County has had a BB/BS program in the past. Due to financial concerns, it gradually dissolved and was nonexistent for over a decade. BB/BS was reintroduced seven years ago to the Lycoming County community. Administrators at Lycoming County Children and Youth recognized the value and benefit of youth mentoring for our children towards the development of healthy families to create a stronger community.

Subsequently, the Agency started a local chapter of BB/BS, which is regionally sponsored by BB/BS of Northeastern Pa. (BB/BS NEPA), encompassing an 11-county region providing management, oversight, and support while reporting directly to BB/BS of America. Lycoming County Children and Youth continue to support the Lycoming County BB/BS program by employing the program staff, as well as providing some additional financial means to help promote recruitment and retention of “Bigs.” This support limits the staff’s need for extensive fundraising time so they can remain focused on program development. However, Lycoming County must fundraise to help with the continued growth, programming, recruitment activities, and matching events. Lycoming County BB/BS also offers a yearly scholarship that any volunteer or youth that are or have been in the program can apply for to assist them with trade school or college expenses. Since initiating the scholarship program in 2022, seven “Bigs” have been able to be assisted with their college expenses. It is planned that former and current “Littles” will also apply for scholarships.

Since its reintroduction seven years ago, BB/BS NEPA serving Lycoming County has been growing and thriving. Initially, they have provided a community-based program and have had well over 60 matches. Currently, they have 31 active community matches. Unfortunately, they have 27 youths patiently waiting for a “Big” in the community-based program. Waiting youth need a caring person to “ignite their potential and show them new possibilities.” Not only does a child benefit from having a positive role model, but the mentor gets a sense of satisfaction from making an impact on a child’s future. Lycoming County needs volunteers and especially men. They also have several couples that share the duties with their significant other in mentoring a youth. This is a great volunteer opportunity for a stable couple to partner together to enhance the life of a youth.

During the 2021-2022 school year, they began a BB/BS school-based initiative program, matching High School Juniors and Seniors with Elementary students at South Williamsport School District. We have had five matches in South Williamsport School District since its inception. The school-based initiative has been expanded to East Lycoming School District in the 2022-2023 school year. The East Lycoming School District students have been very enthusiastic about becoming “Bigs,” and we saw overwhelming interest. Already they have made 14 matches in the East Lycoming School District. The school-based program assists not only the elementary youth who need some extra attention and positive role modeling but also the high school students with learning the importance of mentoring and community service.

Because children need heroes, Lycoming BB/BS began a “Bigs in Blue” program matching law enforcement and first responders as “Bigs” with “Littles” to help build those important relationships and trust as well as strengthen the bonds between our uniformed men and women and their community. They made their first match in March 2023 with a youth at Schick Elementary School and a State Trooper from the Montoursville barracks.

The support of your “Time, Talents, and Treasure” is critical to the success of BB/BS NEPA serving Lycoming County. If you want more information on volunteering or Bowl for Kids’ Sake, call Mary Martin or Wala Tillman, Program Specialists, at 570-433-3193.