One-on-one mentoring program looks to expand in Walworth County schools
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Hannah, a fifth-grader at Jackson Elementary School in Elkhorn, eats lunch with Kathleen Griebel, her “lunch buddy” from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, on a recent Thursday in Hannah’s classroom. The program pairs students with adult mentors, who visit with them once a week during lunchtime. Terry Mayer/staff.
ELKHORN — Though the school lunch menu varies daily, Hannah, a fifth-grader at Jackson Elementary School, looks forward to one noontime favorite every Thursday: her friend, Kathleen Griebel.
A retired business owner from Elkhorn, Griebel is a volunteer with the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Lunch Buddies program that pairs an adult mentor with an elementary-school child who could use a little weekly one-on-one time.
Since she was a third-grader, Hannah (the last names of Lunch Buddy students are withheld at the request of Big Brothers Big Sisters) and Griebel have spent 20 to 45 minutes together on Thursdays during the school year.
“Sometimes I get to bring friends,” said Hannah, referring to her classmates. Mostly, however, it’s just the two of them in the classroom for lunch, Hannah with the daily special on her cafeteria tray and Griebel with a brown-bag sandwich. Sometimes Griebel brings in treats — Hannah’s favorites were the gingerbread “women” cookies that came from a local bakery one day.
The number of volunteers for the program, however, is down, and Pam Carper, the new Lunch Buddies coordinator for Walworth County, is on a recruiting push to get more matches at Jackson, West Side Elementary and Elkhorn Area Middle School, as well as the program’s latest participating schools: Wileman Elementary School in Delavan and Eastside Elementary School in Lake Geneva.
“The kids love to have that special person to spend time with,” Carper said. “There is a great need.”
Read the full story in the Jan. 23, 2011 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.