By Meagan Singletary
University News Service
June 16, 2008
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hays County has enjoyed a partnership with Texas State University-San Marcos since fall 2007. The next step is formally establishing the relationship on campus as an official student organization.
“Texas state gave us office space, gave us access to students for recruiting, really gave us a lot of support,” said Aileen Hays, service delivery coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hays County.
Hays said that the benefits of becoming an official organization would be giving students who didn’t have the time to commit to Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor the chance to participate in other ways, like by organizing events or fund raisers.
“It gives Texas State students even more ownership of the organization,” said Hays.
Texas State has been an integral part of the development of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hays County.
“Texas State has benefitted us by making it easy to start up. This relationship is really unique,” said Hays. “Other universities in Texas don’t have this. We have Big Brothers Big Sisters in College Station, we have it in Austin, we have it in Waco, but none of them have this kind of supportive relationship with the university."
The partnership between Texas State and Big Brothers Big Sisters has been favorable for both parties.
“It’s been really great both ways. The bulk of my bigs (mentors) are Texas State students so it benefits the kids because they get to visit a college campus and learn about college,” said Hays. “It’s a way for Texas State students and Texas State as a university to really give back to the community.” In addition to the mentoring received by youth members, every child in the seventh grade or higher that has been in the program for at least year receives a $2,000 scholarship for college.
Chris Murray, a San Antonio native, said that working with Big Brothers Big Sisters was something he wanted to do for a while.
“I just thought it would be a fun thing to do and a good thing to do at the same time,” said Murray, an exercise sports science junior.
Murray’s involvement is noteworthy because finding males willing to volunteer as mentors is a rarity.
“We need guys,” said Hays. “We have a lot of boys on a waiting list sitting and they are great, sweet little boys. They’re waiting for some guys to volunteer.”
Murray and his little brother like to go fishing and kayaking at Sewell Park.
“Growing up I think it would have helped if I had an extra male influence,” said Murray.
Volunteers and youth are matched up based on mutual interests and Big Brothers Big Sisters has match support specialists to support the matches which makes the matches more successful.
“The longer a match lasts, the more impactful it is for a kid,” said Hays. “It’s really about one on one time together."
Hays said that San Marcos in particular had a need for a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters because of different factors like high drop out rates and kids in poverty. Many of the children helped by this program come from single parent homes or live with their grandparents.
“The students at Big Brothers Big Sisters have the opportunity to get to know and work with kids who are different than them and they’re different socioeconomically, racially, ethnically,” said Hays. “People that you wouldn’t know otherwise.
“It’s a life experience for students that’s really valuable,” said Hays. “I can really see Texas State students growing from that experience.”
For individuals and groups wishing to learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hays County, contact Aileen Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org.