September 5, 2019

Big Brothers Big Sisters Recruits Students, Adults to Enrich a Child’s Life

GREEN BAY, Wis.— Big Brothers Big Sisters of Door County (BBBS) is raising awareness about the need for mentors throughout the county.

“When children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely stay focused in school and stay out of trouble,” said Katie Hess, executive director. “Being matched with a Big Sister or a Big Brother can help them navigate the challenges of our society today and help them realize their potential.”

The agency served 603 children in Brown, Door and Shawano counties in 2018. Last year, there were 131 children in Door County matched with Bigs, many of whom meet at school. However, many more children are waiting to be matched.

Because of that, Big Brothers Big Sisters needs volunteers.

“Anyone who has the desire to help a child, and have a little fun along the way, can be a mentor,” says Patty O’Rourke, Door County coordinator.

Door County youth mentoring programs continue to grow because of strong relationships with school districts including Gibraltar, Sturgeon Bay, Southern Door and Washington Island, but also through community connections including the Sturgeon Bay Police Department and Door County Sheriff’s Department.

Children typically enter the program between the ages of 7 to 13 and are matched with a high school student or an adult who can meet with them at school or in the community.

O’Rourke says adults of any age, even retirees, make great mentors.

“Mentoring makes such an incredible impact on the life of a child, and the mentor gets a lot out of it too,” O’Rourke says. “A lot of Bigs say they enjoy sharing their life experiences with a younger person, and get back as much or more than they give.”

While the waiting list of Littles may be discouraging, O’Rourke says parents and guardians should consider BBBS a resource for their child, especially for children between the ages of 7 and 10. “Big Brothers Big Sisters is a partner, and having a mentor can strengthen their relationship with their children,” O’Rourke said.

Youth enrolled in BBBS’s community-based programs during 2018 showed improvement in social acceptance (65%), grades (63%), attitudes toward risky behaviors (86%) and parental trust (79%).

Anyone interested in learning more about being a Big or enrolling their child can fill out an application online at, or call O’Rourke at 920-489-3545.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin is the premier youth mentoring organization serving Brown, Door and Shawano counties, serving more than 600 children in 2018. Our mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Founded in 1972, we are a 100 percent donor and volunteer supported nonprofit organization.