Big Brothers Big Sisters of Geneseo is a volunteer opportunity for students to connect with children from area schools. These students, referred to as "bigs," serve as friends and mentors to the children, who are known as "littles."
The bonds that form between the older and younger student are intended to leave a positive effect on everyone involved. Littles enjoy the company and personal guidance of a role model. Their older bigs benefit from knowing that they have had an impact on a young child's life.
After a student applies to be a big brother or sister, they are interviewed by the organization, which tries to find common interests between specific bigs and littles to facilitate the best relationship possible. Victoria Barone, a senior, is the co-coordinator of the program as well as a big sister. She enjoys being a big because of the "strong bond" that has been created from the time she spends with her little sister. Bigs are required to spend a minimum of three hours a week with their littles, doing activities like watching movies, cooking, knitting, or playing games.
Barone emphasized reliability as an important characteristic of successful bigs. "If you don't fulfill your obligation in another club," she said, "the consequences may not be as serious. If you don't in this program, you could be letting down a little kid." However, the majority of Geneseo students who participate in the program find success as a big brother or sister and thoroughly enjoy their experiences.
Because this organization is entirely student-run, Geneseo students are actively involved in administrative activities. Caseworkers serve as a link between bigs and their littles, getting feedback on the program from both parties. Lindsay Rokos, a senior caseworker, explained that "as a caseworker, I make sure everyone's happy." If there is a problem, a caseworker mediates the conflict and tries to find a solution that works for both the big and little brother or sister.
As co-coordinator of the program along with senior Beth Copani, Barone spends time in the office planning events and holding meetings for the club. Co-coordinators also monitor caseworkers and ensure that the organization is running smoothly. Others are responsible for collaborating with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rochester, a larger branch of the organization.
A key component of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is the large events held each month for the big brothers and sisters and their littles. Caseworkers and members of the executive board work together to plan events and inform bigs about them. The events serve as a designated time to bring all participants together for a fun, engaging time. In the past, events have included go-kart racing, mini-golf, and holiday parties.
The commitment for a big brother or a big sister each week is small, but essential. Volunteers in this program benefit by directly affecting the children they work with in a positive way.