Big Brothers Big Sisters Marketing Coordinator Ansley Kellerman told members of the Chattanooga Civitan Club on Friday afternoon that the organization has provided mentors to over 250 children in the area.
The organization has both community and school based programs. Volunteers who participate in the community program spend four to six hours with their "little" every month for at least a year.
Ms. Kellerman said, "We ask all of our volunteers for a year commitment because a lot of these kids have already been disappointed in their lives and we don't need them to be disappointed again.
For the school program, volunteers mentor children in an after school setting. Teachers recommend students who they believe would benefit from the program to get involved.
Currently, Ms. Kellerman said there are still nearly 150 children who are waiting to be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister.
Big Brothers Big Sisters also markets itself to families with an incarcerated parent through its Amachi program, which receives state funding. The organization works to provide children of current inmates with a positive influence.
Ms. Kellerman said, "We're not trying to replace that parent, we're just trying to add to that child's life."
Right now, 70 percent of children with an incarcerated parent will also end up in jail themselves. Big Brothers Big Sisters seeks to change that.
Researchers have found that children who spent time with a Big Brother or Big Sister for 18 months were 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs and 33 percent less likely to engage in violent behavior.
Other studies found that involvement in the program substantially improved performance in school.