ST. LOUIS — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri is the best way forward for many, including Michelle Robinson and her little from north city.
"I have people pour into me and so I felt like I should pay it forward and do the same. I wanted to show her that I grew up literally within walking distance of where she lives now, so that it's possible," Robinson said.
Paired together for the last 10 years, the dynamic of hanging out in person has changed because of COVID-19. Everything has turned virtual.
The pandemic made organization leaders realize, they could pivot.
Bigs could continue guiding littles, virtually.
But it also highlighted what's needed now more than ever.
"We need 300 males. We have more young boys in the program, so males are big as well, males are our biggest one." Linda Robinson, Director of Volunteer Recruitment said.
That's what prompted Mikel Whittier a year ago to get involved.
"Realizing that a lot of those kids are African American that go without a big and it prompted me to get involved," Whittier said.
It's more important than ever to get Black men as bigs.
In 2020, social justice issues were in the limelight. Because of this, the program has seen more Black men sign up.
"African American males to step up to guide them through those topics that might pop up. Those conversations, the why, you know, to help them through it, keep them on a positive path," Robinson explained.
But more bigs are still needed to lead the way.
To help out, you can donate or volunteer.
"Volunteers are needed their time and talent is just as important," Robinson adds.
Taking some time to guide a little could be one step forward for the change we want to see.
"I truly believe if we want change a lot of that starts with our kids and our children," Whittier said.
If you want to help Big Brothers Big Sisters, you can go to its website or call 314-633-0024.