Whether it’s grabbing a bite to eat, seeing a movie or simply hanging out, a few hours spent with a supportive, caring adult each month can make a huge difference in a child’s life. For nearly 50 years now, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas (BBBSCA) has fostered these one-on-one relationships for children in our state facing adversity. And the impact it’s made has changed the lives of these youths — and their mentors — for the better, forever.

Through a donor and volunteer-supported network, BBBSCA pairs boys and girls ages 6-14, known as “Littles,” with same-sex role models or “Bigs” with the goal of helping these youth become responsible, successful and well-rounded individuals. These relationships have paid huge dividends for both the Littles and our community. Studies show Littles are more confident of their performance in school, less likely to use alcohol or illegal drugs and more likely to reach a higher level of education than they originally thought possible.

For a small time commitment, Bigs can make a huge difference. Individuals can take part in BBBSCA’s community-based program for only two hours twice per month for a total of 48 hours per year. They can also participate in the site-based program where they commit to visiting their Little’s school one hour per week for nine months — approximately 37 hours per year. There’s also the option of becoming a member of BBBSCA’s Big League, an auxiliary program that provides free activities for Bigs and Littles to attend together.

Even if you’re short on time, you can still support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas. Next Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Statehouse Convention Center, we’re hosting the 42nd Annual Toast & Roast honoring Greg Hatcher, long-time supporter of BBBSCA and owner of the Hatcher Agency. The once-in-a-lifetime event will feature a private 90-minute concert by 14-time Grammy nominee Martina McBride, as well as a full dinner and drinks. Tickets are going fast, so purchase yours today at bbbsca.org/toast to help make a difference for youth in central Arkansas.

 
Kristi Dannelley is a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas’ board of directors and this year’s Toast & Roast chairman. She is the chief operating officer of Magna IV, a more than 40-year-old print and marketing business in Little Rock, and one of Soiree’s Women to Watch 2016. For more information, visit bbbsca.org/toast.