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Big Brothers Big Sisters launch ‘12 kids of Christmas’ campaign

Local organization seeks mentors for area youth

McHENRY – Seven-year-old twins Joseph and Jeramy Morgan may look identical, but their interests couldn’t be more different.

Joseph loves to draw and wants to be an art teacher when he grows up. Jeramy is more active and loves to play outside. With the twins, plus her 11-year-old daughter, Madison, single mother Tiffani Greenenwald has a lot of different personalities to care for.

She signed the twins up for Big Brothers Big Sisters to be able to give all her children more one-on-one attention, and 15 months later they are still on the organization’s waiting list.

“The boys really don’t have any male role models,” Greenenwald said. “I really think that a Big Brother would help.”

On Thursday, the Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County launched its 12 Kids of Christmas campaign, which is aimed at finding mentors for a dozen children on the organization’s waiting list.

“The reason we started this is because we are always looking for volunteers,” said Dana Briscoe, volunteer, recruitment and enrollment coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County. “We always have kids on the waiting list… These are children that need a mentor in their life.”

There are 32 children, five girls and 25 boys, on the organization’s waiting list. Some – like Joseph and Jeramy – have been waiting for more than a year.

“Generally, the children on the list are from a single-parent home or a home lacking two positive role models,” Briscoe said. “We also have several children being raised by grandparents who can’t get out as much. Those children need someone who can be more active with them.”

Joseph and Jeramy’s father died five years ago, and as they have gotten older Greenenwald has seen the need for a male influence in their lives.

“A male role model just to take them to a baseball game would be great,” Greenenwald said. “I normally take them to a baseball game every year, but it’s me, Mom. They see me every day. It’s not the same as it would be if there was some kind of a male figure to do it.”

Joseph said he would love the chance to be matched up with a Big Brother who could take him to things outside the house, like art galleries.

“I’d love it,” Joseph said. “I’m usually just sitting around the house or going to school. And watching TV and playing on my tablet, it’s getting a little boring.

“I’d like to go to art places because I really love art.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County requires an 18-month commitment from its mentors. Mentors must meet with their children two to four times a month and can do whatever activity the Big chooses.

Mentors must pass a background check and will go through training before becoming a Big. To volunteer or learn more, call 815-385-3855 or visit www.bbbsmchenry.org.

“I’m super hopeful (they’ll get matched with a Big),” Greenenwald said. “I think that they would do so well with some kind of a male role model.”

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