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franklin county times

Volunteers give positive direction to youngsters

By Staff
AT PLAY n Qadry Burrage plays with friends on the Play Station Space Jump during a Big Brothers-Big Sisters celebration at Highland Park Saturday. More than 100 mentors are participating in the program and influencing the lives of children. Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
May 27, 2001
As a Big Brother mentor, the Rev. Carl Jackson of Meridian is the perfect volunteer.
The parishioner happened to be Rosemary Harris, director of the local Big Brother-Big Sister program, and Jackson said he is glad he answered her call.
The child he works with has no father in the home.
Jackson, Harris and others were among the celebrants Saturday as Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Mississippi-Meridian gathered at Highland Park for a day of games and fun.
The program, which started in the fall, has been a success, matching 102 mentors with 102 children.
Stacey Hancock, Americorps Promise Fellow who assists the program's director and serves as a Big Sister, said students for the program were identified from Meridian's eight elementary and two middle schools. All the mentoring has been done during school hours for one hour a week.
A space jump play station was set up at the park, hotdogs and soft drinks were served, balloons were supplied by the Partnership for a Healthy Lauderdale County and members of the Harris Upper Elementary Drill Team performed for the crowd.
Ellen Compton, a counselor at Witherspoon Elementary School, said it was no problem identifying children for the program and more mentors are needed.
Compton got a letter at the end of the school year from a student who thanked her for his Big Brother. She said the children were very enthusiastic when their mentors came to school. Ten students had mentors at Witherspoon this school year. Compton said she would like to see the number of mentors at least double next year.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.

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