Buddies In Schools program a success, more help needed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Buddies In Schools program a success, more help needed


May 14, 2008

Albany--  Big Brothers Big Sisters wants you to go back to class. For years, the organization has paired men and women with boys and girls in need of a mentor. But sometimes that relationship is needed in the school environment.

Some young Dougherty County women say big sisterhood made all the difference.

In any school hallway, there's the potential for any student to go in the wrong direction. "You don't really mean it sometimes," said 6th grader Breauna Offord.

Students like Offord are learning what's right. "Before I make a decision, think about it," said Offord. That's just one of things she learns twice a week.

"Every Tuesday and Thursday," said Offord.

The lessons come from a big sister.  It's not a sister by blood, but by connection. "We have kids that are matched at the elementary level as well as the middle school level," said Big Brothers Big Sisters Program Manager Veronica Staten.

Big Brothers Big Sisters places mentors in schools for kids who are dealing with everything from bad grades to low self-esteem, sometimes even a death in the family. 13-year-old Shaquelle Jones' mother died this past summer. Her big sister stepped in.

"We kind of talked about the things that I was going through," said Jones. Those talks helped. "My grades are getting better. My attitude is better," said Jones.

Dougherty International Education Middle School leaders see the changes from the Buddies in School Program. "I've seen a great improvement. We have less behavior referrals. Student grades have improved," said DIEMS Guidance Counselor Cassandra Ransom.

To get to that point, it just took direction. "Not to do the wrong thing but do the right thing," said 8th grader Thomasina Maddox.

Breauna now has some bragging rights. "I used to make 60's and 50's. Now I'm above average," said Offord.

That's a claim that comes thanks to a big sister stepping in to help guide her along the right path.

Mentors follow the students through 8th grade. Big Brothers Big Sisters is in need of "Buddies In School" volunteers. It's a couple of hours per week.

To find out how you can volunteer, call 229-883-8105 or visit www.southgabbbs.org.  

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