The city of Lexington and Big Brothers Big Sisters have launched two new mentoring programs in celebration of the nonprofit’s 60th anniversary.
The two programs pairing city employees and Lexington police officers with youth will ramp up this year.
“It is our goal to serve 600 children or more each year by 2020,” said at-large Councilman Kevin Stinnett, who is the Big Brothers Big Sisters 60th anniversary chairman and a longtime Big Brother.
“In order to do that, we need the help of our community partners — the city, Lexington Police Department and Fayette County Public Schools — and we need the help of our community to support this growth,” Stinnett said.
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The programs were announced Tuesday at a news conference at the Lexington government center.
The City Mentors program allows city employees to volunteer as mentors for as long as two hours a week through four agencies including Big Brothers Big Sisters. The program, which was suggested by At-Large Councilman Richard Moloney, has already recruited more than 20 mentors, city officials said.
Bigs in Blue is a national Big Brothers Big Sisters program that partners cops with kids. Lexington police are beginning their program.
“The Lexington Police Department has made growing our partnership with Fayette County Public Schools a priority, through D.A.R.E. class and sponsoring academic teams and now through Bigs in Blue,” Police Chief Mark Barnard said.
Mayor Jim Gray has asked for more community volunteers to mentor youth as part of a larger effort to decrease teen violence.
“You don’t need to be perfect,” Gray said. “You just have to be there for a young person. The time investment is modest. The emotional and community benefits are enormous.”
The volunteer commitment to be a mentor is typically an hour a week for a year.
Male mentors are a growing need, Big Sisters Big Brothers officials said.
The current Big Brothers Big Sisters program serves about 500 children each year, but more than 200 children are on its waiting list, and approximately 70 percent are boys. The average wait for a mentor is a year, and for boys it’s much longer.
Each of the programs supports children in the nonprofit’s school-based programs in the Fayette County school district. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a program at William Wells Brown Elementary School where more than 35 children have received mentoring over the past two years.
But the program needs more volunteers and more money to expand, said Andrea Ooten, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“We hope that you’ll consider volunteering, donating to our 60th anniversary campaign or joining us at one of our upcoming fundraising events to help support these efforts,” Ooten said.