After spending the semester mentoring young people from the Geneva area, HWS students who are “Bigs” volunteering in the HWS Big Brothers, Big Sisters program invited their “Littles” to campus for a Thanksgiving celebration.
“We wanted the chance to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with the kids before we leave for break,” says Hannah Sorgi ’14, who is the civic leader of the program. “It’s also our first chance to get all the different ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ together to meet each other.”
For most of the HWS students and their “Littles,” the gathering was their first time interacting with other students in the program. It provided returning “Bigs” with the opportunity to meet new “Bigs,” and “Littles” to meet interact with other children in the program.
“The event was a way for us to connect with other ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ in the program besides the occasional meetings,” says Ashley Tengler ’17.
The children were able to enjoy helping with the preparation of the dinner, arts and crafts, games, and cookie decorating as part of the celebration, which was held at the Community Service House on Friday evening. All of the participants in the program were invited to attend the event, in addition to coordinator of the program, Berta Bennett, and a few community members who also help with the program.
“Big Brothers, Big Sisters” is the oldest, largest youth mentoring organization in the United States. At HWS, students are matched with children ages 6 to 18 from the Geneva area. Sorgi says children range form those who just want to get involved with the program to children who are recommended by guidance counselors to participate.
“Bigs” and “Littles” meet for one hour a week in the community to share fun activities, stories, and a little bit about themselves. For many of the “Littles,” just being on a college campus is exciting.
“I think the dinner was fun for the kids because they love seeing new things at the Colleges,” says Paige Pierce ’17, who became a “Big” at the start of the semester. Going to Saga is one of Pierce’s favorite activities to do with her “Little,” which she says is a fun activity for both of them. “Just hanging out with her is awesome,” Pierce adds.
The Colleges currently have 10 students paired with children from the area, and are in the process of making new matches. Working in conjunction with the Geneva 2020 initiative, the program seeks first-year and sophomore students who can build a relationship with their “Littles” throughout their four years at HWS.
“It’s a great way for students to give back to the Geneva community in a very personal way,” Sorgi says. “With one-on-one mentoring, it provides a unique experience from other volunteering opportunities on campus.”