Nearly 10 years ago, Owen County resident Kimberly Hale was longing for a way to get involved in her community. It wasn’t until she found Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana that she was able to fill that need. Kimberly’s employer, Old National, was encouraging their employees to mentor children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. Concerned that she wouldn’t be able to devote enough time to mentor a child, Kimberly signed up to be a School Big. This meant that she would go to an Owen County school one hour per week and spend time with a child that she was matched with. This time was spent doing homework, playing games, and being a listening ear. When speaking about her time as a Big, Kimberly says, “I realized that I wasn’t just having fun with these kids, but I was teaching them valuable life skills. Nothing makes me happier than walking into the school and seeing the smile on that child’s face. It makes them feel like the most special person in the world.” Not only have the five children Kimberly has mentored benefited greatly from this organization, but she has too. “My mom is a retired school teacher and I coached high school volleyball for fifteen years. I wanted to try to give back to the kids in our schools, and it has been the most amazing ten years.”
Kimberly’s advice for anyone who is considering volunteering is to start in the School Bigs program. “It’s one hour per week, anyone can put that away. The schools are great about working around your schedule. A lot of times, we forget what is going on in our communities and how tough things can be for kids. Any time that someone can contribute will benefit a kid more than we’ll ever know.” When she was considering entering the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, Kimberly thought to herself, “Is one hour a week going to change this child’s life?” And it did. The children Kimberly has mentored have continued their schooling and have learned important life skills, including how to deal with conflict in a mature way. Kimberly’s goal is to get as many people involved in the program as she can by talking about the ten amazing years she has spent in the program. “Look around, look at your schedule; can you give at least one hour per week to change a child’s life? We need help in the community. There are unmatched children who are waiting for you. Try it,” Kimberly said with a smile as she reflected on the past ten years with Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Indiana.