Big Brothers Big Sisters Expands Mentoring Programs To Military Families

The Tampa chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters now offers services to the children of military families. Visit www.bbbsfl.org for more information.

By Adam Musgrave

The Tampa chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters is in the process of expanding to offer its services to the children of military families.

Directors of the organization, which served 1,900 children last year in Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties, seek to add 140 children and an equal number of mentors for this program.

“The overall goal of this program is to take the service we are already providing and focus it on the children of military families,” said Stephen Koch, the organization’s CEO. Koch continued by saying the program recognizes the unique stresses that these families have had to endure, especially over the past several years.

The Tampa Bay branch is one of 21 Big Brothers Big Sisters programs that recently received a grant to create a military-based mentorship initiative. The money provided is now being used to recruit and train mentors for the 140 children that Koch hopes to bring into the program.

“We’re thrilled to be able to have a way to give back to military families,” said Gerri Kramer, the program’s Senior Communications Specialist.

Kramer said that the program is still seeking mentors for this mentorship program which, like all Big Brothers Big Sisters initiatives, will provide one mentor for each child. She stressed that they would love to have military or former-military volunteers in order to provide the understanding that children of military families might need.

“Mentoring is a lot of fun,” she said. “It provides a great relationship for the child and the mentor. Most mentors say they have gotten as much out of it as their littles.”

According to Koch, this program like all that Big Brothers Big Sisters offers is about getting a child what he or she needs.

“If your child needs help with math, you get him a tutor,” he said. “If he’s sick, you call a doctor. Asking for a big is not a sign that you are a bad parent. A big simply provides another relationship for the child and another person that he can talk to.”

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters in general or its military mentorship program or to sign up call 769-3600 or visit www.bbbsfl.org.