The Lewis University dining room was decked out with a red carpet April 13 to cap off this semester’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties Mentoring Buddies program.
The purpose of the BBBS program is to match children with adult mentors, who take on the roles of tutor, friend and confidant for that child. According to BBBS, the goal is to “help children realize their potential and realize their futures.”
The red carpet event honored both the mentors (bigs) and their assigned third-, fourth- and fifth-graders (littles) from Irene King Elementary School in Romeoville and Ludwig Elementary School in Lockport for their hard work and dedication.
As the littles’ names were called out, they got to walk a red carpet to receive their Certificates of Appreciation and pose for a photograph with their big.
For showing outstanding effort in homework, littles Lillian, Alyssa, Juliette, Tia, Jillian, Nathan, James, Shaun, Daniel, Carlos and Anthony received a special award in addition to their certificates.
Lewis’ bigs were also given Certificates of Appreciation at the event, with special recognition going to Mark Colman for Outstanding Achievement.
Sasha Dacres from BBBS presented the award.
“Mark has been witnessed first hand in his compassion and dedication to the littles of the after school program,” she said. “He has demonstrated leadership skills that are far beyond his years and has truly been amazing.”
“The stars of the Oscars (cannot compare to) … the stars we have in this room,” Coordinator of University Ministry Outreach Martha Villegas-Miranda said. “We really wanted to do a red carpet theme today because they deserve red carpet treatment … they really deserve the best.”
With the help of transportation provided by Midwest Generation, littles and bigs get together at Lewis once a week to work on homework, learn, read and play games.
Lewis student Alexandra King's little, Ludwig student Alyssa, said she enjoys “hanging out with (her) big and seeing what (her) interests are.”
Villegas-Miranda said Lewis mentors try to focus on providing hands-on educational opportunities to the littles. This semester, littles had the chance to see reptiles, wolves, foxes and more up close and personal as they learned about the different species.
However, it's not just the littles who are learning.
Colman, who has been involved with BBBS since 2007, said the program has taught him patience and that it’s okay to act like a kid sometimes, “no matter what age you are.”
Colman’s little, Rafeal, said he likes hanging out with his mentor and appreciates the help with his homework.
Colman said his favorite part of working with the children is getting to help them work through something they are struggling with.
“Seeing the excitement when he does it and finally gets it” is what it’s all about, Colman said.
Lewis students interested in becoming a mentor can contact Villegas-Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to enroll a child in the BBBS of Will and Grundy Counties, call 815-723-2227.