Have you met your 'litte'

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By The Staff

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico (BBBS) is looking for adults that have a few hours a month to make the difference in the life of a child.

The organization’s school-based program, known to old-timers as Lunch Buddies, is ready to start the process for those volunteers who can spend even one hour a week having lunch with one of the many students – or “littles” in Los Alamos Public Schools.

Through the program, students know “they are important, cherished and celebrated,” said Los Alamos Coordinator Nikki Harnish. “Who wouldn’t flourish under those conditions? All kids benefit by having additional adults, outside the family, pay attention to them, listen to them and just be present for them.”

Harnish said school-based matches meet weekly during the school year, often but not always over lunch. The range of options for matches include prior to the start of the school day or during after-school activities.

“In school-based matches, the day and time of meeting need to be consistent through the school year,” Harnish said. “School personnel need to know what to expect, and we make sure that students do not miss scheduled classes.”

Children join the program for many reasons. Some are new to the community; others come from single-parent homes or from families where a new baby or other obligations draw away the parents’ focus.

BBBS considers their adult volunteers golden to all of their programs. The “bigs” provide a one-to-one focus and allow for different perspectives, not necessarily better or worse, just different.

The resulting relationships and experiences cause children to explore and consider others in different ways.

“They offer an additional resource to the kids, even those kids in high functioning families,” Harnish said.

Harnish, who is also the Rio Arriba community coordinator, is available to both communities to begin the paperwork process required before a match.

She is available for questions at 927-0246 or via e-mail at nharnish@bbbsnorthernnm.org.