Imagine being a young child living in a low income neighborhood with a mother who works two jobs struggling just to get food on the table.
Increased numbers of children in Fresno are living in similar non-traditional homes.
While they may receive plenty of affection from their guardians, many lack a strong role model because time with mom or other parental figures is limited.
This is where Big Brothers Big Sisters steps in with the goal of filling this void and providing children in the community with someone to look up to.
Last Thursday the organization kicked off its 21st annual Bowl for Kidâ€™s Sake event at Fresno State, which raised $1,800 for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Shauna Goodman, who helped organize the event, said that all the proceeds of this and the other tournaments will go toward recruiting volunteers and processing and matching them with a deserving child.
â€œWe use the funds to match each child with an adult who shares their likes,â€ Goodman said. â€œLetâ€™s say youâ€™re interested in basketball or arts and crafts; weâ€™ll try to match you with a child who enjoys those activities and has similar preferences to yours.â€
The goal of all this, Goodman said, is to reverse some of the tragic statistics that show that these children have a harder time in school and are more likely to become involved with drugs, in gangs and become sexually active too soon.
â€œGenerally these are all good kids and we catch them before they start seeking companionship in things like drugs, gang violence and sex,â€ Goodman said. â€œItâ€™s sad that many kids from non-traditional families get caught in this cycle, and Big Brother Big Sisters wants to break the cycle by giving them a positive influence.â€
According to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Web site, the cycle is breaking with 57 percent of participating children improving in classroom behavior, 62 percent in academic performance, 66 percent in relationships with peers and 78 percent in boosted self-confidence.
The goal in teaming with Fresno State was not only to raise money, but to recruit college students to volunteer by showing them how satisfying it is to help a child in need.
â€œWe definitely can use more college students as volunteers,â€ Goodman said. â€œNot only do many students have flexible schedules, but seeing someone in college with set goals who is trying to better themselves impacts children so much.â€
Event Coordinator Oscar Fonseca agreed that heâ€™d like to see more Fresno State students become Big brothers and sisters.
â€œThere are only about 10 Fresno State students active in the program,â€ Fonseca said. â€œI think that the more college students the better because not only are they good role models, but they are young and active and the kids always have a fun time with them.â€
Senior Kinesiology major Mark Vilayrack became involved with Bowl for Kidâ€™s Sake as part of a project for his public speaking class and said the experience has enlightened him
â€œOur professor posed a question about what was going on in the community and what we could do to help and become an active part in it,â€ Vilayrack said. â€œMy classmates and I collectively came up with the idea to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Itâ€™s great to see the difference weâ€™re making in these kids lives.â€
If you would like to make a difference also and become a Big Brother or Sister contact Oscar Fonseca at (559) 268-BIGS . To sign up a bowling team contact Shauna Goodman at (559) 268-2447. Team rates are $350 for a corporate team of five, $60 each in pledges for an individual team, and $40 each in pledges for a student team. The closest events are this upcoming Saturday and Sunday at Kings County Bowl in Hanford and Valley Bowl in Madera.