‘Big Sister’ a positive role model

Marietta College senior Emily Lorek, of Troy, decided to attend school in Marietta because she wanted a small school environment. Though she had been active in many groups on campus, she wanted something that was long-lasting.

In August, during a service fair on campus, Lorek saw the booth for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and she decided to become a “Big Sister.”

Question: Why did you choose Marietta?

Answer: I knew I wanted to go to small school, so I was interested in the small school environment. And I liked the town of Marietta. I thought it had a lot to offer and I was interested in running. Also the leadership department reached out to me, which I really found their program interesting and beneficial, as well as the psychology department, I really enjoyed learning about that and I knew it was a good program.

Q: What made you decide to start volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters?

A: Well I was at the service fair where they were sitting…and I was interested in something long-term and I wanted that one-on-one relationship with someone, and I thought, with a child in need, I thought that would be a good program to get involved with in general. And even though it’s my last year at school, I knew it was also a program I could maintain after I leave by communicating, whether it’s through letter or phone calls or whether I’m visiting. So it doesn’t have to end and I really like that appeal as well.

Q: About how many hours each week do you volunteer?

A: It’s not really a weekly thing, it’s more of a monthly thing. They say the minimum is at least four hours a month, and with the weather, this winter has been kind of tough. But I try to see her at least every other week. Just because of also conflicting schedules it’s also kind of hard sometimes but that’s generally what I try to go off of.

Q: What does being a big sister entail?

A: Well, there’s the coordination piece of planning an activity. Whether that’s looking at hours..and communicating that with the parent to make sure they’re available. There’s also just being a role model; it’s a big piece. So whether the student is interested in going to college one day and modeling being a good college student or encouraging (them to) do your homework or whatever it may be. There’s so many things you can model and to be helpful and whether the child is going through adolescence or younger years. You can help them answer questions, like ‘Why are my friends doing that,’ so just being able to be a talking source is really a big thing.

Q: What’s hardest part?

A: Probably the scheduling conflicts. Everybody’s busy and finding the time that works for both of you can be a challenge. But at the same time it’s a good challenge because you know it’s not just you. If they’re also involved in different programs it’s a good thing because they’re actively engaged in whether it’s school or with their family. It can be a positive thing too.

Q: What’s the best part?

A: I think just when my little sister says that she had a really good time. I know that she enjoys the activities we do, even if it’s as simple as playing cards, just the opportunity to get out and do something, Just knowing that what we’re doing, whatever activity it might be is, is a positive experience. Also just build a relationship, with me personally, with somebody in the community, no matter what age it is, is good. You know, just to get to know community members because in college you can meet so many people your age, but it’s a chance to meet somebody else.

Q: What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

A: What do I not do? I am really involved in a lot of clubs and organizations. I was the coordinator for Excel program for the McDonough Leadership Department for the 2013 cohort. I also run cross country and track. I’m on a couple other student boards, like the student athletic board. Right now I’m on a committee planning a memorial 5k and a shoe drive for a student who passed away. I’ve interned at various places. I keep myself busy, that’s for sure.

Q: How can others get involved?

A: Actually, this is the first year that Big Brothers Big Sisters is in Marietta. I think they just got a grant where they’re expanding the program for the community. Next year’s service fair would be a great place to start to get involved in the program because they should be making more placements with students and children and I think they’re even trying to start a program with the junior high…Next year is going to be a big starting point.

Q: Anything else anyone should know or anything you’d like to add?

A: I don’t know. I think its a rewarding experience. It’s one of those things you don’t really know what to expect because you get placed with somebody that you’ve never met. There’s a little bit of anxiety, like ‘Will they like me?’ but, it’s more than that because it’s building a relationship and it’s finding common ground that’s something you’re both interested in, or finding what you’re both uninterested in. It’s just that ability to provide an outlet for someone if they need to talk or get out of the house, or whatever it might be.

Interview conducted by Amanda Nicholson.