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Originaly posted March 1, 2013
"Big Brother" Tony Bryant (left) and his "Little Brother," Derrick Burch, 11, spend time at Darlington Park on Wednesday. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma is kicking off its 30 Men in 30 Days drive to generate more big brothers. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
More Big Brothers wanted for mentoring program
BY MIKE AVERILL World Staff Writer
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an endorsement.)
About three years ago, Traice and Tony Bryant were looking for an opportunity to volunteer with children.
That's when they were introduced to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma.
Through the agency they were matched with Derrick Burch, now an 11-year-old sixth-grader in Union Public Schools.
"They're awesome," Derrick said. "They're a nice couple with lots of activities for me to do." ...
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma is looking for more men like Tony Bryant. On Friday, the organization is kicking off its second annual 30 Men in 30 Days recruitment campaign.
Because of the impact the experience has had on his life, Bryant tries to encourage other men he knows to volunteer with the agency, something that is much needed.
Several times a month he and his wife, who live in Coweta, pick up Derrick and enjoy activities such as going to dinner, the movies, the park or skating - just the types of things Derrick's mom envisioned when she enrolled him in the program.
"My mom thought I needed to get out more, and I had no one to play with except for my sisters," Derrick said.
But perhaps the best thing he found was someone to share his thoughts with.
"I can talk to them about things I wouldn't tell to others. They're really close, like family," he said. "When I'm sad, they cheer me up."
Since being matched with Derrick, Bryant said he can see a change in all three of them.
"We've brought out a little of his shyness, and he's enriched our lives," he said. "We go to each other's birthdays and share the holidays. He's like extended family."
The campaign, created by Brian Carr, one of the agency's recruiters, is a chance to raise awareness of the gap between the number of boys seeking a Big Brother and the number of male volunteers as a possible match.
In Tulsa there are 150 Big Brother-Little Brother matches, and there are 100 boys on the waiting list - 70 percent of the waiting list - and some boys wait more than a year before being matched.
As for volunteer inquiries, only three out of every 10 are male.
"I think women are more prone to volunteer for something like our program, which has a long-term commitment," Carr said. "We ask for a minimum of one year. I think men are more hesitant to make that commitment.
"You have to educate guys on what it is to be a mentor. A lot of them think it's more academic when really it's about being there for them and being that consistent adult in their life."
The enrollment process requires an application, references, an in-person interview and a background check and can take four to eight weeks, Carr said.
Last year the recruitment drive brought in more than 20 new male volunteers, and Carr is confident that this year's drive will bring in more.
Regardless of the number of volunteers, he knows each one will make a positive impact on a young man's life.
"It means having that person there to give them one-on-one attention," he said. "The kids are coming from a single-parent family or are being raised by grandparents. This means having a person in their life that can be a support and guide them in the right direction. It adds a consistency in their life that most of them don't have."
How to volunteer
Anyone wishing to become a Big Brother can call 918-728-7932, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to tulsaworld.com/bbbsok
The enrollment process requires an application, references, an in-person interview and a background check and can take four to eight weeks,
Once approved, volunteers are matched with children who express similar interests.