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Military children focus of mentoring

by Adrienne Anderson

The Bayonet
Fort Benning, GA | October 24, 2012

BBBS Military Mentoring joins children of parents in the military with Bigs who are in the military, ROTC or military school.

BBBS Military Mentoring joins children of parents in the military with Bigs who are in the military, ROTC or military school. | Photo: Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Chattahoochee Valley is introducing a new program to Fort Benning called the Military Mentoring Program, which focuses on supporting children of military Families.

Big Brothers Big Sisters was one of nine youth-serving organizations to receive a grant from the Department of Justice and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in order to provide services to military children.

Families targeted are children and youth whose parents are on active duty, in the Reserves or National Guard, as well as veterans, the wounded, ill or injured.  

According to Big Brothers Big Sisters website, www.bbbs.org, a study by the Department of the Defense showed children had increased levels of fear and anxiety when a parent was deployed. 

"I do know that feeling," said Mona Morgan, recruitment and enrollment specialist and MMP coordinator, about her own experiences as a child with a military parent. "(Military children) are moving around a lot, always changing friends, always changing environments — having someone provide a little bit more stability in their life is something we look forward to being able to do."

The organization hopes to work with all post schools and is currently working with Wilson Elementary School to implement a twice-weekly mentorship program for the students. 

"One of the most important things for us — once they are matched up," said Renee Mallory, Wilson Elementary School principal. "Is it will be the same mentor for the long haul. That makes it a much more powerful program — having someone that is committed to (mentoring) a particular child."

The school is working to identify children in graders kindergarten through second grade who could benefit from the program, Mallory said. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters is focused on identifying the needs of each school, Morgan said, as part of the site-based program. But the organization will also work with children off-post as well. 

"If (the child is) part of our greater community based program — the mentors will spend time with them taking them to sporting events, movies, taking them to the library if they need to do homework," she said. "Sometimes it's as little as hanging out in the park and talking about how their week was. Sometimes kids just need a little bit of extra attention."

Besides working with children, the organization also wants to further involve the Fort Benning community. Big Brothers Big Sisters has partnered with Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers for their first on-post event, Mentor for a Day, Morgan said. The event will help match Soldiers with children in the community who aren't matched in the program. The event is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Kelley Hill Recreation Center, 9079 Marne Road. 

"We have a good relationship with Soldiers," Morgan said. "And we definitely want to continue that."

For more information on how to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters or enroll a child, call 706-327-3760.


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