Jul 13, 2018 Updated Jul 13, 2018
Every child rescue isn’t always as dramatic or watched as the rescue of the 12 young soccer players and their coach who had been trapped deep inside the Tham Luang cave complex in Thailand for 17 days.
The drama unfolded in front of our eyes as the plan was laid out to try to beat the monsoon season’s flooding and finally, all were rescued safely under harrowing circumstances.
Sometimes the rescue of a child is much more subtle and does not involve Seal dive teams, doctors and engineers. It isn’t done in days or even a couple of weeks.
Most often a child rescue comes in the form of everyday heroes called mentors, who commit to spending regular time with a child over a span of a couple of years.
We all need mentors in our lives. Most people can look back and see how one person or another helped them through a rough spot, or encouraged them in their hopes and dreams, listened, laughed with them and made them feel special. Those are mentors.
Many children have built-in mentors in their lives, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, etc. However, many, too many, for whatever reason, do not.
That’s where outside organizations come in, rallying community residents to lend a hand where it’s needed.
In Little Falls, the Boys and Girls Club offers a place for kids to go, to feel safe, and to grow, under the guidance of trusted adults. While it is open to all kids in the county, distance can be a factor in making it difficult for families who do not live in Little Falls to take advantage of its services.
Kinship of Morrison County is another such program that matches adult mentors with children.
Pierz is getting the opportunity to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BB/BS), an organization that offers services that bring children together with mentors. In the BB/BS program, kids are called “Littles” and the mentors are called “Bigs.”
BB/BS is signing a memorandum of understanding with the Pierz School District. As a start, 25 children at Pioneer Elementary will have the chance to be matched with a “Big.” BB/BS fully vets all mentors, doing background checks before they are allowed to be part of the program.
The goal is to have 10 high school students as Bigs, who can walk from the high school to the grade school at the appointed time. The other 15 mentors willing to volunteer their time, on a regular and consistent basis a couple of times each month during part of a school day, will come from the community.
Pierz School District Supt. George Weber said there is a significant need in our country for children to get positive adult attention and mentorship in today’s hectic world.
“Sometimes these Big Brothers and Sisters can answer questions and provide guidance that no one else can give, because sometimes there is more safety in asking them than other authority figures. Sometimes children need another friend they can count on,” he said.
Jackie (Scholl) Johnson, a Pierz native and executive director of BB/BS for Central Minnesota, isn’t too worried that the program will not be able to find enough Pierz community mentors to step up to the plate. Whether to benefit a neighbor or to cheer a sports team, “Pierz shows up,” she said.
We have no doubt Pierz will prove she is right.