Big Brothers Big Sisters, a mentoring program, is making its way to Kodiak on March 4.
“This is the first time we’ve been in Kodiak,” said Flossie Spencer, Alaska Native/Native American mentoring initiative director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska.
The program comes to the island because of a tribal initiative for children at risk grant. The Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak made it possible for the group to receive the grant.
“Kodiak’s been asking us for several years to come here and we had an opportunity,” Spencer said. “We needed a letter of support from a tribe and Sun’aq trusted us and we were able to get the grant.”
The grant will last for two years, and Spencer is already working toward finding more partners in the community for sustainability.
“We don’t want it to end. We’re working really hard to making it last,” she said.
The free mentoring program is for every child, or “little,” who wants or needs a mentor, or “big.” Children from 6 to 18 are allowed in the program, and from ninth grade children can become mentors.
“A big would spend an hour a week or two to four hours a month mentoring a child,” Spencer said. “It could be reading a book, spending time with them, going to the movie … doing activities and just being themselves.”
Spencer said she was elated to have Big Brothers Big Sisters in Kodiak because it is a proven mentoring program.
“We have studies that show and prove that our mentoring works,” she said.
The only difficulty with the program so far is a common one.
“The hard part is recruiting male bigs. That’s always difficult, especially the Native boys,” Spencer said. “Native boys wait nine months to a year and a half for a Native big if they specifically ask for one.”
Spencer said the recruiting is still going on, and that she is working with potential partners like the Kodiak Island Borough School District, teen court and Kodiak Police Department to help get referrals to the program.
The kickoff for the program is March 4 at the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center, also the start date for recruiting littles and bigs and making matches.
“The program is pretty open and unlimited,” Spencer said. “We’re hoping for a really good number (of participants).”
Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.