ELKHART — In celebration of January as National Mentoring Month, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart will team up with the Lakeshore Railroad Historical Foundation to present a showing of the movie “The Blind Side.”
Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the movie starting at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 8 at the Lerner Theater, 410 S. Main St. The showing is open to the public and free, although donations will be accepted and refreshments will be sold.
“Our agency is always trying to promote mentoring in unique ways,” said Stephanie Patka, executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart. “A movie is something different that can bring together people of all ages and tell a story with a message, and when that message is the importance of mentoring and giving back to others, it just sort of works.”
Prior to the movie showing, Mayor Dick Moore’s office will be delivering a proclamation at 6:30 p.m. to kick off January as Mentoring Month for the City of Elkhart.
And the act of being a “big” has become more than just an independent volunteer opportunity.
“‘Bigs’ are caring adults that choose to spend time one-on-one mentoring a child,” said Patka. “Our agency has traditionally had big brothers and big sisters, but we have expanded for couples and families to take on a little as a pair or group. This can do big things for a child’s self esteem and confidence, and help them interact with other people when they may have a different experience with that at home.”
With more than 75 potential “littles” on the waiting list, money raised from any donations collected during the movie showing will go toward supporting new matches throughout the coming year, and other events will be taking place over the course of the month such as a skating party at the NIBCO Water and Ice Park and happenings at the YMCA.
“You can’t start too soon to mentor a child,” said Patka. “We all talk about New Year’s resolutions to help ourselves, but joining our organization helps yourself and a child, and makes a big difference in the community. Our mentors aren’t necessarily superheroes, they’re just people who really care.”
Current bigs will be rewarded this month with free coffee from Starbucks every Friday during the month of January at participating stores in Indiana.
As for college students or others who are away for a portion of the year, there are still opportunities to get involved.
“People who want to mentor with our agency can become bigs and do activities at our summer picnic and during their breaks,” said Patka. “Anyone, regardless of who they are, can become a big. Just give us a call and we can make something work for you.”
For more information or to volunteer call 875-1039 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.