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“He is so excited [to see me] and his happiness is absolutely infectious,” says Zachary Holmquist, a Big Brother in the School-based Program.

School is a place for children to learn and grow. It becomes an even more thrilling environment for students who get to experience the excitement of having a Big Brother or Big Sister come to their school and spend time with them.

Volunteers choose the School-based Program for a variety of reasons. Sara Martin, a School-based Big Sister, says she chose the program because it’s easier for her to meet with her Little an hour during the day rather than a night or weekend. Sara meets with her Little Sister at lunchtime during the school year, and she says it’s her favorite appointment every week.

For Zachary Holmquist, a University of Minnesota School-based Big Brother, says he enjoys the program because it’s structured and provides a great environment for mentoring.

Volunteers can choose schools that are near their home or work which makes the one-hour-a week commitment extremely convenient. “As a college student, it can be really difficult to schedule mentoring time and maintain a rigorous school work load. The School-based Program allows me to meet with my little at the same time every week in a supportive, exciting environment, without having to coordinate outside travel and activities in the community,” says Zachary. With the same schedule every week, Zachary plans around that special ‘lunch hour’ to visit his Little.

Science may not be your favorite, and you still may have problems with long division- but that’s no problem. School-based mentors aren’t tutors, they’re friends. Although some matches may choose to work on homework, others participate in other fun activities. Also, match coordinators help provide games and activity ideas for matches.

“We have baked cookies, made art projects, played in gym and outside. There is never a lack of things to do,” says Sara.

Zachary and his Little incorporate academic work into their fun. “My little loves computers and reading, so we usually read a couple short Curious George books, play a game of Marble Blaster on the computer, and then go to the gym or playground to toss a basketball around or fly a kite. We play board games, and color and build cool structures with blocks. Every day is different, and we love trying new things!”

It’s hard to believe that just one hour a week can be so rewarding for both the mentor and the mentee. Sara likes being there for her Little and talking about all the things that little girls think are life changing. Sara says they both really look forward to their meeting time every week.

“The most rewarding thing about being a School-based Big is seeing just how excited my Little is every time I come to get him from his class. He is so enthusiastic and excited, and his happiness is absolutely infectious,” says Zachary. “Regardless of how difficult my week has been, or what’s going on at school, I know I can depend on my Little to make me forget about my troubles for a bit while we laugh and play together. He is a good friend and so much fun to be around.”

The first day of school is just around the corner for students all throughout the Twin Cities. And at more than 25 BBBS partner schools, children will be hoping to be matched with caring adults who have the power to make school an even cooler place to be. Do you know somebody who would make a great School-based  Big? Click here to learn more.

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