Big Brother Big Sisters of Lorain County adapting to COVID-19 challenges to keep mission going

Big Brother Big Sisters of Lorain County adapting to COVID-19 challenges to keep mission going

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Kids’ lives have changed a lot since COVID-19 became a part of our daily routines.

They’re learning from home and can’t go to sports or other social activities.

Some may be experiencing anxiety.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County is working to keep connections strong during this time of social distancing.

“We’re encouraged when a mentor says, ‘I talked to my little and this is what we heard today, but we’ve got a plan in place to connect them, keep them engaged and I’m committed to being there for them, listening to them,'” said Marcus Madison, interim co-executive director.

One-on-one mentoring rolls on despite the challenges of not being able to meet face-to-face for games, homework help, conversations and special trips to places like the movies or mall.

Zoom and other technology is giving the organization the tools it needs to succeed during the health emergency.

“We have been moving our entire mentoring operations online,” Madison said. “We’re using Zoom to connect our children and families. We’re doing virtual big nights out, we’re also creating family nights using Netflix and trying figuring out how we can be innovative in this space to keep kids connected."

Ten-year-old Kmilin Wilson and her sister, 7-year-old Pearl Wilson, are grateful for the opportunities to hit a button and be with the ladies they look up to and depend on.

“Because it helps me when I don’t understand math and everything and they’re nice (and) caring about people,” Kmilin said.

Pearl also has good things to say about her “big."

“They’ve been nice to me, help me do some of my homework and let me do some crafts. That’s all,” Pearl said.

Their mom, Kandi Wilson, has been fielding questions from the girls since the time the coronavirus hit and changes started coming.

“They’d ask about it all the time. ‘When are we going back to Big Brothers Big Sisters? When we going back to school?,’" Kandi said.

She finds comfort knowing the organization found a way to keep going despite huge obstacles.

Kandi said it’s a worthwhile investment.

“My oldest, she’s not so shy. She likes the fact that she has someone older than her to help her with things, because mommy can’t do it half the time because I’m always working,” Kandi said.

More than 250 children are a part of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Lorain County.

“We’re human beings. We’re used to that social interaction,” said Giovana Kallas, interim co-executive director.

They recently made their first virtual match and need to add more volunteers who are willing to inspire young lives during this pandemic and beyond.

“We realize as much as this continues, they are going to need to have that positive person be part of their life. Just checking in on them, seeing how they’re doing and still providing them with that one-to-one time.”

The organization considers itself an essential operation. They’ve had to cancel fundraising events and are relying on individual donors and their network of partners to give in order to keep things going. Services are provided to families for free.

If you would like to donate or become a volunteers visit their website or call 440-277-6541.

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