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Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Program receives large grants

Big Brothers Big Sisters plans new effort

By Tom Stankard
CELINA - A program designed to improve children's outlooks on life by partnering them with adult role models has received two grants totaling $160,000.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mercer, Auglaize and Van Wert Counties Executive Director Molly Hay announced in a news release that the organization has received $160,000 through the state's Community Connectors Mentorship program.
This is the third time it has received the grant, according to site-based coordinator Nancy Eberle.
The local agency serves about 200 children and has about 150 adult volunteers, Eberle told the newspaper.
"We know we will put that money to good use to better serve kids and hopefully be able to service more kids," she said.
The first grant, valued at $70,000, will help fund the mentoring programs that pair children, or "littles," with volunteer mentors known as "bigs," Hay said in the release.
Through these programs, Hay said bigs will provide "littles" individualized time and attention on a regular basis. This time will be filled with conversations and shared activities so the kids can "develop a relationship that helps youth manage the everyday challenges that are part of growing up."
By being with their mentors, Hay said children "will gain new skills, explore new interests and test behaviors that expand their experience base beyond their family or neighborhood."
"Every match has their own goals based on the specific needs of the child," Hay said in the release. "The mentoring program coordinator, parent, student and "big" will work collaboratively on developing ideas and strategies to help meet the particular needs of the 'little.' "
With the second grant, valued at $90,000, BBBS will partner with the Mercer County Educational Service Center to establish a community connectors program to provide career mentoring to youth in grades 5-12 in the Mercer County Alternative Education Program.  
This program, Hay said, "provides students with activities and role models who can motivate and inspire them as well as help them develop skills that lead to success in school, career and their future."
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