Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Ohio has teamed up with Newsymom.com to start a new pen pal program. Pictured are Newsymom founder and Executive Director Michaela Madison and BBBS CEO Beverly Pearch. (Submitted photo)
New Philadelphia, Ohio – Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Ohio is kicking off the new year with a new program and a new partnership they hope will have a big impact on the lives of area children.
The organization recently began partnering with Newsymom.com for a new pen pal program. Big Brothers Big Sisters Marketing Director Olivia Scally says the program gives their waiting Littles an opportunity to start communicating right away with a prescreened adult mentor.
"Sometimes, they've waited over two years just for that Big and that person to kind of meet with them and do things, so this gives them someone that they can start with immediately," she says. "As soon as they're interviewed, we can give them a contact that can kind of keep up to date with them, give them someone to build the relationship with."
Newsymom founder and Executive Director Michaela Madison says the program is an extension of their commitment to being positive role models for the community.
"We came together to figure out what's a new way that we can get involved in the community and set a good example, and from that meeting came the idea of a pen pal program," she says.
Madison says the program essentially eliminates the organization’s waitlist while also introducing a new generation to the art of letter writing.
"We're encouraging penmanship in a world of technology. What I think is just so neat and so cool is just to get these kids handwriting letters, putting stamps on envelopes, sending them through the mail," she says. "I think it brings back just some nostalgia with sending letters mailed through traditional mail. I think it'll be fun and a cool experience for the kids."
The program officially launched January 1st, and Madison says they’re excited to see it grow.
"I think we're really going to see some strong bonds created. There's nothing like opening up a letter and reading it from a friend. It's something about holding it in your hand versus reading an email, and I think that we're really going to see these bonds grow and strengthen," she says.
Scally says Newsymom has already brought them enough pen pals to take care of their current waitlist, but she says they definitely have room for more.
"We do have a pretty good start but definitely if anybody is interested, we would love to have them," she says. "Even if they have to wait for a child, this way we can make sure that there's always someone available as soon as a child gets enrolled, so we can kind of have a little waiting list of pen pals ready to go as kids come through our doors."
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit www.bigs4kids.com. To sign up to be a pen pal, call 330-339-6916.