In-Person Matching Returns to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

Kristy Fairbanks
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri
Mobile: 706-974-3673

In-Person Matching Returns to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri

ST. LOUIS – March 2, 2022 – After almost two years of starting relationships virtually, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO) has resumed in-person matching just in time for spring. Youth (“Littles”), their families, and adult volunteer mentors (“Bigs”) who’ve been waiting for this return are receiving the news with enthusiastic, eager arms.

"Our program participants have been telling us, ‘We want [to start] in-person,’” says Senior Volunteer Enrollment Specialist Danielle McElwaine. “Our Littles, Parent/Guardians, and Bigs miss the interaction that comes from being in front of someone and experiencing something together in a shared space. After two years of COVID, they understand the importance of keeping personal safety at the forefront while sharing face-to-face time with one another. They're ready!"

Ericka Sanders, BBBSEMO’s Acting Volunteer Recruitment Director, says would-be Bigs want the same thing youth and families desire: a match experience that’s literally in-real-life. Resuming in-person is also critical given a 60% decline in mentor applications since the pandemic started.

“People are burnt out on virtual. They apply to be Bigs with our program looking forward to spending time out with a mentee,” Sanders says. “One of the biggest selling points for becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister is the chance to hang out with a child and do fun things in-person. And physically getting together with a Little gives them a different sense of contributing to community.”

Even tech-savvy mentors in college want face-to-face. “Since we began offering the option of starting in-person in Cape Girardeau,” says BBBSEMO Senior Program Director Becky Simpher, “all participants -- families, youth, and volunteers -- have been choosing in-person over virtual. Our SEMO students are definitely over virtual, so even when it comes to the interviewing process, they pick in-person over online."

This return to in-person means all BBBSEMO matches can now enjoy virtual and face-to-face activities. Big Brothers Big Sisters welcomes adults 18 and older to sign up to become mentors. To learn more, visit For more information about ways your organization can support “Be Big” efforts, contact Ericka Sanders at
To schedule a media interview with Ericka Sanders, key staff, an active Big Brother or Big Sister, contact VP of Marketing & Experience Kristy Fairbanks at (706) 974-3673 or

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO)
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri has served youth and community since 1914. Through BBBSEMO’s 1,100 active matches in its 1:1 mentoring program and signature one-to-many efforts, youth outcomes are improved. BBBSEMO’s initiatives encompass supports for education and workforce development; these include ABCToday (in 19 schools, K-12), Big Futures (young people ages 18-25), and First Job (ages 15-17). The agency supports children and families in St. Louis City and County; St. Charles and Jefferson Counties; and Cape Girardeau and Scott Counties. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri is a proud member of the United Way. For more information, contact Kristy Fairbanks (email -, phone - (706) 974-3673) or visit

At Central High School, the ABCToday network was the key driver in organizing a career day. They set up in our high school, so ALL 10th grade students could participate. 261 students got to learn about different career paths.
Christa Turner, Deputy Superintendent, Cape Girardeau Public Schools