Big Brothers Big Sisters Sock Hop This Sunday

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Big Brothers Big Sisters, the program that gives adults the privilege of changing the life of a child forever, is holding a Sock Hop and Open House from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Rim Country Mall.

"Our purpose for holding the dance is to let people in the community know who we are, to get the word out about mentoring opportunities in Payson, and to let people get together and have some fun," program director Susan Williams said. "It's also a fund-raiser, but we're only charging $3 for adults and $1 for children under 18."

Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Since at least some of the "bigs" will attend the dance with their "littles," it is also an opportunity to "give the kids a chance to practice their social skills" under adult supervision.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is an agency that matches adult volunteers with children in need of positive role models.

The Rim country program is actually a satellite branch of Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Children from 6 to 14 years of age are eligible for the program. Those accepted usually have only one parent. Typically, a lot more boys than girls end up in the program, and that is the case in the Rim country, according to Williams.

"We especially are in need of big brothers," she said. "We have seven or eight ‘littles' waiting right now."

As the program grows, more big sisters also will be needed.

"I've just visited the schools and I expect a flood more," Williams said. "Families are really learning about us, and we've got kids wanting to be in the program."

The Rim country branch currently has 19 active matches, eight boys and 11 girls.

Volunteers are expected to share a few hours every week or every other week with the child, going to Phoenix to a baseball game, playing games, running errands, doing homework, or just watching TV.

"The idea is simply to spend time together," Williams said.

Volunteers, who must be at least 18, go through an extensive screening process that includes fingerprinting. Then volunteers and children are matched based on such compatibility factors as personality, mutual interests and the child's needs."

Williams replaced Bob Zimmerman as program director Nov. 20.

"Bob was the prior director and the guy who got it off the ground," Williams said. "His wife, Bev, got the postmaster job in Yarnell, so they had to move.

Williams has a masters degree in social work and has been a private practice counselor in Payson for the past 10 years.

With more than 508 agencies serving 200,000 children nationwide, Big Brothers Big Sisters is the world's largest and most effective system of one-to-one mentoring.

For more information or to volunteer, call Williams at 468-8375. Information on mentoring opportunities in Payson also will be available at the sock hop Sunday.

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