The Shawano chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BB/BS) has been around since 1972, and has provided young kids with the opportunity to connect with teens who can share their experiences and be around for them as they grow up. Recently, there have been activities and pairings that the organization has partaken in for the benefit of the kids, which has led the program to really take off this year.
Chris Marcks, one of the founders of the Shawano chapter of BB/BS and a current recruiter, has had a lot of experience with the program. Volunteering is a big part of her life, as she also works for United Way and has really enjoyed bringing happiness to amy community she is in.
“About 2014, I was approached to bring Big Brothers Big Sisters to Shawano, and I already knew a lot about it. When I was in college at Michigan State I considered joining. I always loved kids, but my parents also always volunteered too, so there was that intrinsic value involved,” Marcks shared.
Once she got involved, she was grateful to have gotten the opportunity to positively impact the life of somebody younger than her through a sibling-type bond.
“I got involved and was paired with a seventh grade girl, and I was the first person that she knew to graduate from college. To this day, we still remain in contact via Facebook,” she explained. She was later approached about starting BB/BS in Shawano. Marcks even got a testimonial from her little sister on her behalf.
Considering volunteering had such a positive impact on the life of her and her Little, the nickname for the little brothers or sisters in the program, Marcks did not hesitate when she was approached about spreading the organization to Shawano.
“August of that year I was first program lead, and now I mostly do volunteer council and recruiting as well as enrollment. Diane Taylor is now the official Shawano coordinator,” Marcks explained. “Recruiting at the high school has led us to making matches every few weeks, so we make sure to keep that in the announcements.”
Sophomore Grace Licausi has just recently been paired with her Little, a boy named Sawyer, and has been lucky enough to bond with her match through group and duo activities.
“They came to our school and had a booth, so I went to a meeting and received free lunch, which was a perk, and information. So, I decided to sign up. It seemed really interesting and cool. I had friends in it, and obviously it looks good on applications, so I thought I should try it out,” Licausi explained.
Recently a group of BB/BS people went out bowling, but Licausi also likes to bond with her Little one on one.
“He [Sawyer] really likes sports. He doesn’t like arts and crafts or video games, but he enjoys going outside. He really likes dirt, so we just go outside and play and get dirty,” Licausi said. “At first, he was really shy but by the end of our first hangout he made eye contact with me. It doesn’t sound like that big of a thing, but for this kid it really was, and that was pretty amazing.”
Licausi thoroughly enjoyed her times spent with her Little and is glad to have become a part of the organization.
“A lot of these kids have rough home lives so they don’t experience joy from older people, so I wanted to pass on happiness and show that life doesn’t have to be sad all the time,” Licausi shared.
The Shawano Chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters often comes to Shawano High, so look for news in the announcements if you are interested in joining!