Nonprofit seeks male role models to help solve teenage violent streak in Wausau

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RIB MOUNTAIN, Wis (WSAW) -- Since the beginning of summer, the City of Wausau has seen a string of violent crimes committed by teenagers. This past Wednesday, a drug deal and robbery on Wausau’s east side resulted in a 16-year-old boy being rushed to intensive care due to a bullet that grazed his head. After the incident, the Wausau Chief of Police, Ben Bliven, encouraged men in the community to ‘do more.’

On Friday, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northcentral Wisconsin echoed the statements made by the chief of police by encouraging more people to volunteer their time to mentoring young people.

“If we could get more volunteers or Big Brothers or Big Sisters we could help so many youths in our community,” said Linda Koepke, Development Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters Northcentral Wisconsin. “It could be as simple as just reading at one of our great libraries together or even going to a dog park. We once had a Little whose favorite activity was just going to Menards and shopping with us...it's that simple."

Big Brothers Big Sisters benefits children ages six through 14 who might be struggling emotionally, socially, academically or behaviorally. Children are paired with a Big based on their compatibility between one another. Currently, there are more than 100 kids on the waitlist for the program and the majority of those are young men.

“You are going to find it incredibly worthwhile,” explained Pat Heier who has been a Big Brother in the program for the past three years. “I have a feeling that 20-years from now, my Little is going to remember what we did together and say ‘I had a lot of fun doing those things with Pat.’

Heier tells NewsChannel 7 that he has been on golf outings, baseball games and even pool parties with his Little. Every month the organization puts on events and activities for kids of all ages to participate in with their Big Brother or Big Sister; this way volunteers never have to come out of pocket to spend time with their Little.

“It’s great watching my Little grow,” added Heier. “He is almost as tall as I am now. He is beginning to be a young man and I can see where he is transforming himself from a boy to a young man."

The role of a Big is not to replace the role of a parent, but to provide extra support and guidance for their Little until they get older. Although it is only a one-year commitment, many Big’s and Little's stay enrolled in the program because of the bond they both create.

For more information on the Big Brother Big Sister program or how to sign up CLICK HERE