Whitesville Big Brothers-Big Sisters Program Receives Foundation Grant

 

Pictured, from left, are Big Sister Shelby Watson and Big Brother Jacob Graves, Site Coordinator Erica Grantier, Doug Roorbach, executive director of the Foundation, Little Brother Tyler Cook and Little Sisters Emma Saxton, Cortni Watson and Adrian Dodson.

BELMONT, N.Y., October 5, 2011—The Allegany County Area Foundation presented a $300 grant to the Big Brother-Big Sister program at Whitesville Central School Tuesday afternoon.

“We are grateful for this grant,” said Erica Grantier, site coordinator for Family Service Society, Inc., the agency that runs the Big Brothers-Big Sisters program at Whitesville. Ms. Grantier said that the program intends to use the money to buy educational games and reading materials for the students.

Right now the program has five sets of students matched, about half of what it had at the end of the last school year, the others having been ended when the older student of the pair graduated.

Ms. Grantier said that she is recruiting additional students, both “bigs” and “littles,” as she calls them. Many come from referrals by others in the program, by teachers and by parents. Others come with a friend already involved in the program, she said.

In either case, the “bigs” undergo security checks and training, then get matched with a little “brother” or “sister” to meet each Tuesday after school in the high school library. There they enjoy some games together, then do a structured activity—maybe relay races outside or a craft indoors—and have time to visit together before dismissal at 4 p.m.

“They’re very dedicated to what they do,” said Ms. Grantier of the older students.

Whitesville has had an on-site program since 2005, and the Foundation has supported the program with grants four times in those seven years. “The Foundation’s board has a great appreciation for this program and for the affect it has on students in the area,” said Doug Roorbach, executive director of the Allegany County Area Foundation, “It is rare for the Foundation to support a program from its general fund so often, but this program is doing good work and the board wants to do all it can to keep it going.

“Perhaps an interested individual or group would be willing to take the initiative in establishing an endowment fund for the program, to provide a steady income each year,” Roorbach said. The Foundation has endowment funds for several non-profit organizations in Allegany County.