Dec. 16, 2013
Media Contact: Lindsay Houts, Staff Writer, UCO University Relations, 405-974-2121, firstname.lastname@example.org
UCO MENTOR DRIVE A ‘BIG’ SUCCESS FOR EDMOND STUDENTS
The University of Central Oklahoma’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center (VSLC) hosted a recruitment drive for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma on campus in November that netted 111 student, faculty and staff mentors, or “Bigs,” for Edmond elementary school students.
Central, named the 2013 University Champion for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma in October, hosted the drive to help meet the need for mentors for 92 Edmond students who were on a waiting list.
“UCO has shown a true commitment to impacting the lives of at-risk children through our one-to-one mentoring program. As the nation’s leading incarcerator of women and coming in third for men, it is critical that Oklahomans take a serious look at what this ultimately costs our state in lost potential, innovation and productivity,” said Rachel Hernandez, Central alumna and Oklahoma City area director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma.
The new mentors are currently in the enrollment process, which typically takes about 90 days. During that time, mentors are interviewed, vetted through background and reference checks, and then matched to students according to preferences and interests.
Kay Robinson, director of Campus Activities and Events at Central, has been a Big Sister twice: once in Ohio for five years and now in Oklahoma for the last four years. She wanted to be a Big Sister to be a resource for children who might not have a mentor in their lives otherwise.
Robinson and her “Little,” Tristen, see each other every other weekend. They go to movies, football and basketball games, bowling, walk the mall and find new books at the library.
“If you like kids, there’s just no reason not to be a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters,” Robinson said. “It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and if you care about the future this generation, it just makes sense to do. Most ‘Bigs’ have college degrees, and that’s something a lot of the kids in the program aren’t ever exposed to.”
Mentors can choose to volunteer in either a community-based or school-based programs. In the community-based program, mentors do at least one activity per month with their “Little.” In the school-based program, mentors spend time with students during school hours.
Central has been a community partner of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma since 2007. The university provides broad support to the organization in addition to mentor recruitment, including volunteer support and fundraising for annual events. In 2013, UCO’s 14 “Bowl for Kids’ Sake” teams raised more than $10,000.
For more information about UCO’s service initiatives, visit www.uco.edu/student-affairs/vslc.