Sue Johnson, Jim Tuttle, Judy Wilemon and Stoney Beavers recently celebrated a signal event: the appointment of Wilemon as Blount County coordinator for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.
Johnson is director of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham, the five-county area including Blount County. Tuttle started the Blount County program three years ago. Wilemon will be the county’s first full-time paid coordinator. Beavers is president of the group’s advisory council handling planning of support activities, including the group’s upcoming fund raiser, the annual Blount County Big Brothers/ Big Sisters Fashion Show at the World Outreach Center on April 2.
The BB/BS program matches selected high school students – “bigs” – who act as mentors to elementary or middle school students –“littles” – who are identified by school guidance counselors and teachers as needing a strong, positive, and consistent social influence in their lives. Those matches continue over time as those “bigs” and “littles” meet once a week during school hours to spend time together: playing ball, playing monopoly or other games, reading, getting/giving advice, or just talking.
There are currently more than 100 such matches in five county public schools, including Oneonta. Many of the “littles” are children of single parents. The appointment of a full-time coordinator signals an emphasis on expanding the program to all schools in the county, as well as expanding the number of “community matchers” – those matching children with adult role models – as well as managing the considerable volume of monitoring and tracking required for all aspects of the program.