Several Oklahoma children are on a waiting list, but the reason may be surprising. They’re waiting for a mentor and are signed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a program that's in need of help.
"Because he's awesome,” 11-year-old Bruce said.
He's awesome, and he's not Bruce’s dad, brother or uncle. Clayton Ramick isn't even related to little Bruce. He is his "big," and this smiling 5th grader is his "little."
"Right now, we have about 150 kids on our wait list,” Ramick said. “Of those 150 kids, over 100 of them are males. Those are little brothers who are desperate need of a big brother."
Bruce is one of the lucky ones. Most of the children in the program are referred by teachers, counselors or churches, and most of them are considered at risk.
Mentors like Ramick take just a few hours of their time for these little guys, time many of them don't get from their own parents. It's hard to be there from behind bars or when quality time with mom or dad takes a backseat to drugs.
"Some of those kids have been waiting over three years for a mentor,” Ramick said.
The need is great, but the impact is even greater. A nationwide study boasts children in the program are 46 percent less likely to use drugs, and more than half are less likely to skip school.
"It's really just bringing kids into stuff that you're already doing,” Ramick said. “It's not adjusting your lifestyle, it's bringing somebody who needs a role model into stuff that you're already doing."
The little things. A jump start in life many of these kids never had.
"We see huge statistics come out of it. Our kids come out and do better in school. They are less likely to skip school,” Ramick said. “They are less likely to turn to drugs and alcohol, and that's without having to have those conversations."
Actions that are louder than any words.
"They do really cool stuff with me,” Bruce said. “He just brought me to Elevation and to talk about this thing on TV. What more would a kid like than that?"
Big Brothers Big Sisters is recruiting bowling teams for their next fundraiser. If you’d like to join, donate or become a mentor visit BBBS.org.