Patty Bounous has been chosen as the Monett R-1 Big Brothers Big Sisters site coordinator. Bounous retired at the end of 2009-10 school year after teaching at the Monett Middle School for 31 years. When it was announced the Big brothers Big Sisters program was coming to Monettk Bounous' interest was peaked.
"This is going to be awesome for our kids in Monett," said Bounous. "And I just felt I wanted to continue being involved with the kids."
The pilot program includes recruiting 20 positive adult role models (Bigs) to meet with 20 at risk children (Littles). Each "match" will be a one-to-one relationship with the same pair meeting once a week for one hour throughout the school year. The hour provides not only mentoring but develops a friendship that will last throughout the school year and beyond.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks (BBBS) is a non-profit organization that provides children with support, guidance, friendship and fun by matching them with adult role models. The program serves the community with a professional staff that carefully works with both the volunteers and the children to ensure that the experience is dynamic, fulfilling, memorable and fun for both the child and the volunteer.
In 2009, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks served over 1,400 children in southwest Missouri.
"BBBS has several different programs," said Bounous. "The school-based program is the one we are starting this year. They also have a program that is community based and a program called lunch buddies."
"This year we are only serving seventh graders. All of the money we raise for the program will stay in the Monett program," Bounous siad. "If the pilot goes well, in the following years, it can expand into Central Elementary and Monett Elementary. We want to try to keep the cap at eighth grade."
Bounous and Monett Middle School Counselor Nancy Noll-Meyer recently spoke to the Monett Kiwanias Club about the new program. Noll-Meyer serves on the mentoring subcommittee and has been a volunteer with Big Brother Big Sister in past years.
Recruitment is now beginning for mentors. Prior to selection, mentors undergo interviews and background checks.
"The area contributions are greatly appreciated," said Bounous. "And the school has helped very much, in addition to providing transportation for the children."
Those interested in helping with the new Big Brothers Big Sisters program, becoming a mentor or making a donation can call 235-5456 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To access information on the national organization, visit www.bbbs.org.