Mentoring program seeking volunteers

By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of southeastern New Mexico is making a big push to find volunteers in Roosevelt and Curry counties.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters matches adults with children and teens in a mentoring program.

The time commitment is an hour spent with their partner per week and activities could include going to a sporting event, taking a walk in the park, or playing board games, according to Val Brakeman, regional program director for eight counties in southeastern New Mexico including Roosevelt and Curry counties.

Brakeman said nearly 200 children are served in southeastern New Mexico.

“There’s a very big need (of volunteers),” director of resource development Derrick Spears said. “And it’s not just in Clovis and Portales, it’s the United States in general. We’re in a state of crisis right now.”

According to its Web site, 95 percent of the children in the program are from single parent-families, 90 percent are from low-income families and 83 percent are minorities.

“I’m a firm believer that our children will follow those that are in front of them,” Spears said. “You can either have a negative influence or you can have somebody who is a productive member of society as an example for our kids.”

Minority boys participating in the program are 67 percent less likely to use drugs and minority girls are 72 percent less likely to use drugs, according to the Web site.

“It doesn’t take someone who’s perfect,” Brakeman said. “It just takes someone who is willing to share time and show a child that they matter.”

Brakeman has been a big sister for six years.

“It’s amazing to see the transformation in a child’s life,” Brakeman said. “Just to see the hope in their eyes — to bring hope to a child who might have been in a hopeless situation, even if it’s for an hour a week. Exposing them to some things that they would never have had the opportunity to be exposed to.”

“It keeps me going to work every day,” Brakeman said. “That’s for sure.”

Information: Ty Walker at 742-3337.