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Lycoming Big Brothers/Big Sisters Helps to Mentor Youth Onto the Right Path of Life

Today, we live in a time of an increasingly large number of single-parent families. This sometimes causes children to feel they don’t have an adequate female or male authority figure to help mentor them through the difficulties of being young in these times. This is where a program such as Lycoming Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northeastern Pennsylvania can have a positive impact.

Lycoming BBBS of NEPA is a youth mentoring program and is one of 11 counties in Northeastern PA. Big Brother and Big Sister have been consistent in Lycoming County for approximately eight years. Lycoming BBBS is unique in that it is also under Lycoming County Children and Youth. Being a part of Children and Youth has helped the program’s financial stability as well as the fact they don’t have to rely solely on fundraising and can make their time more useful in recruitment and matches. The program continues to grow; however, there is always a need for volunteers, especially males. They currently have 48 matches and 42 children on the waitlist.

Lycoming BBBS currently has three different mentoring programs. The community program consists of matching volunteers with youth who spend their time together in the community. The second program is the Big’s in Blue program, which matches police, firefighters, Paramedics, military, or other first responders with youth. These matches can support the youth in their schools and spend time in the community. The last type of program they have is school site-based programs. There is currently one in the South Williamsport School District and two separate groups in the East Lycoming School District. In the school’s site-based programs, junior and senior high school students are matched with younger students who meet weekly at the school for facilitated activities. Each program’s purpose is to provide youth with a mentor who is a positive role model who will show interest in the youth and build meaningful, supportive relationships. Officials at Lycoming BBBS know that youth who have positive mentors are less likely to skip school, engage in drug or alcohol use, have poor grades, or be involved with the juvenile system. They are more likely to be successful, graduate from high school, and have better self-esteem and an overall better outlook. The Bigs in Blue is a great program that fosters respect and trust for youth with law enforcement and other first responder relationships.

An excellent option for married couples or close friends is to mentor as a couple’s match. The program currently has couples that act as a mentoring partnership for a youth. This is great for empty nesters of any age, busy spouses with active lifestyles, or close friends. This type of match has been very successful. If you are unsure about being a mentor alone, find a friend or convince your spouse, and the two of you can spend time with your Little together.

Volunteers usually gain as much from the mentoring experience as the youth, and who doesn’t want to be a kid again? It is very rewarding to build a relationship with a child in need and see the positive changes that come from having a stable role model. It is also rewarding to expose a child to something that he or she would never experience. Being a Big is making memories that will last a lifetime.

Interested individuals wanting more information about BB/BS or applying to become a Big can do so at

The process of becoming a Big is simple. Once the online application is processed, a program specialist will meet with you to complete an interview. All Bigs must have background clearances completed. Once approved, a big will be matched with a little with compatible interests. Mentors are asked to give the youth a one-year commitment and spend a minimum of time with the little once every week to two weeks. Spending time with your Little can be as easy as going for a walk. One Little, who was recently interviewed, was asked if he could choose one thing he could do for a day and what it would be. His response was to see a train go by. The Program Specialists provide monthly support to help ensure match success.

Littles must be between 6 and 15 to be matched with a Big. However, once they have been matched, the match can continue until high school graduation. Many matches become lifelong relationships with the Big, who continue supporting the Little well into adulthood. Other than the School Site Based program, Bigs must be at least 18 years of age to apply. One is never too old to mentor a child. In the School site-based program, high school juniors and seniors are matched with elementary and middle school students. It is not uncommon for these matches to transition to community-based programming once the high school senior graduates from school if they desire to continue the match and remain in the local community.

Annually BBBS programs nationwide hold a fundraising event called Bowl for Kids’ Sake. This year’s “BFKS” event in Lycoming County will occur On April 27, 2024, from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Faxon Bowling Lanes. Build your team of 4 to 6 bowlers. While there is no fee to bowl or enjoy the free pizza and drinks, officials ask for a team donation of $50. All money raised will go toward supporting their matches. For more information or to register your team, log onto or call 570-824-8756. This is a great opportunity to have some fun and get some exercise, all while supporting a good cause. If you would like more information about becoming a volunteer, call 570-433-3193 and speak with Wala Tilman or Mary Martin.