Daily Point of Light # 2704 Jun 16, 2004

The Big Friends of Yankton, South Dakota come from all walks of life. They are college students, retirees, insurance agents, doctors, mental health workers, clergy and even schoolteachers. Some of them are also police officers, social workers, attorneys, truck drivers, principals, nurses and various other professions. Before becoming a Big Friend you must be screened extensively to ensure a safe relationship with your Little Friend. In addition, the Big Friends complete an “interest” survey to give the greatest chance of matching with a Little Friend that has similar interests. Most Big Friends participate in the Big Friend Little Friend program an average of three to five years.

Thirty-six Big Friends have a weekly commitment to meet with their Little Friend. They talk, go fishing, ride bikes, walk on the nature trails, and participate in crafts, camping, picnics, yard work and baking. Some of the Big Friends take their Little Friends to the movies, sporting events, concerts or a multitude of other activities. The Big Friends are dedicated adults who work to have a special relationship with their Little Friend and have a positive impact in their life.

The Little Friends come from various walks of life also. They do not all come from single parent families. All of the Little Friends benefit from the additional time with a caring adult. Little Friends are 6 – 17 years old with the majority being between the ages 9 – 15. Currently there are 23 unmatched Little Friends, 17 boys and 6 girls. There are many Little Friends who have graduated from the program, but they still stay in contact with their Big Friends. Some of the Big Friends are now the “adopted” grandparents of the former Little Friends’ children.

There are monthly Fun Functions for the duos to attend. This is also a time and opportunity for the Big Friends to share experiences. Several of the Big Friends are now Board members of the Big Friend Little Friend program and can share their personal experiences to aid with Board decisions.

Big Friends and Little Friends consider this a “win-win” relationship. In a recent interview, a potential Big Friend said that she wanted to join the program because when she had a Big Sister, it made a very positive impact on her life. These current 36 Big Friends along with the hundreds of other adults who have participated in this program have made a difference for many years in the lives of youth in South Dakota.