A big and little from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program pose together. Credit: Courtesy of John Bruzdzinski

PEACE, Inc. needs about 50 big brothers to volunteer as part of its Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

The problem is part of a countrywide shortage, director John Bruzdzinski said. When he went to the program’s national conference a few years ago, directors in other cities echoed the same problem.

“Everybody was short on male bigs,” Bruzdzinski said.

When he took over the program about five years ago, it was looking for big brothers and big sisters for 120 children. Since then, some kids have been matched with mentors, while others aged out of the program or moved — leaving the 50 boys in need of a match.

Each week or so, the program gets another new application for a boy in the area. It’s been hard to keep up with demand, officials said.

The process to sign up begins with an application to determine what a volunteer likes to do in their free time. Volunteers must submit three references and complete a background check. A representative from PEACE, Inc. then interviews the applicant to find out more about them.

Match managers from PEACE, Inc. put together files with three potential “littles” from which each potential big to chooses.

After a match introduction, the big and the little’s family are given an opportunity to decide if the fit is right.

Once a big is matched with a little, they commit at least six hours each month to spending together — ranging from in-person time, phone calls or online meetings.

For the first month, match managers check in every other week and slowly pull back to every three months as the pair get to know each other better.

“We want it to be enjoyable,” Bruzdzinski said.

Anyone who is interested can apply to the program here.

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Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or libonati@centralcurrent.org.