Volunteers Encourage Community Youth


Photo by Submitted photo

Sophomore Christian Davis of the UCM Football team poses with his little.

Written by Abram Tabor, Reporter

  Not every kid grows up with a good role model in their life. Big Brothers Big Sisters is aiming to change that around the United States, including in Johnson County. BBBS is a program to inspire kids and encourage creativity by matching them with volunteers as life guides and role models. In Warrensburg, University of Central Missouri students and alumni commit their time as ‘bigs’ to help ‘littles’ reach their potential.

   “It’s a really great program to get involved in,” early childhood education major Ashlee Bieker  said. “I’ve always wanted to do it since I was little. I love working with kids, and hanging out with kids.”

   ‘Bigs’ are the main branch of volunteers with BBBS who, after a matching process, are assigned a kid to support, a ‘little’. Bieker started working with her ‘little’ in Sept. 2021. 

   “I think it’s good that she has a role model she can look up to, someone to guide her and have fun with and talk to weekly,” Bieker said.

   The ‘littles’ that BBBS volunteers like Bieker invest in come from non-traditional or low-income households. One of the purposes is to give those ‘littles’ the same opportunities in life that more fortunate families have.

   “People say it all the time, the children are the future,” Christian Davis, junior entrepreneurship and social enterprise major, said. “They’re going to lead the world one day too, and they don’t deserve any less than a fortunate kid.”

   Davis discovered BBBS while volunteering with the football team and decided to put in the extra time and effort to be a ‘big’.

  “It’s not just about being a role model,” Davis said. “It’s about being their friend.”

   Davis’s ‘little’ was matched with him due to an interest in sports, and has visited his football practice several times. Part of the mentorship of being a ‘big’ means actively encouraging creative outlets, education and other personal interests. 

 “I think kids need to see that you can do that stuff and it not be a bad experience.” alumna Veronica Knox said. “They need to see young people who are successful and help them do things they wouldn’t normally be able to do.”

   Knox learned about BBBS through her younger brother, who was a ‘little’ matched with UCM graduate student Zach Racy. The experience motivated Knox to be that person for another child.

   “Being part of Big Brothers Big Sisters isn’t work, because I get to do things that I love,” Knox said. “It’s literally like having a little sister, in fact that’s how my little introduces me — ‘Hey everybody, this is my big sister, Ronnie!’”

 The students, alumni and many more who donate or volunteer for specific events with BBBS continue to inspire the youth of Johnson County.