Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County always looking for male mentors
15 children on local organization's waiting list, 12 of them boys
Published: Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 12:17 a.m. CDT
Peter Collins describes himself as just a “really tall friend with a driver’s license”
to 13-year-old LeeAndre Williams.
Collins has spent more than four years as LeeAndre’s mentor, a big to his little in Big Brothers
Big Sisters of McHenry County, taking him to lunch or to the movies, playing ball with him,
going to his football and soccer games and even serving as the assistant coach for his soccer
“It’s a very rewarding experience,” Collins said. “To see the positive impact that you have on
someone else’s life is satisfaction enough, but then on top of that, to get to try some of the things
that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do, that Big Brother sets up for us, that’s really neat,
But not enough men such as Collins sign up to meet the demand, Executive Director Abby
The group currently has a waiting list of 15 kids, 12 of them boys, from all over McHenry County
in Cary, Crystal Lake, Harvard, McHenry, Johnsburg, Woodstock, Carpentersville, Huntley and
Lake in the Hills, volunteer enrollment specialist Dana Briscoe said.
Typically more than 70 percent of children on the organization’s waiting lists are boys, but only
30 percent of inquiries from people looking to volunteer are from men, according to the group’s
“We always have boys waiting,” Briscoe said.
Fredrick doesn’t know why it’s so tough to get men to sign up because “once we do get them and
we get them on board, they wondered why they waited so long,” she said.
The organization has 342 active matches at both its site-based and community-based programs
and hopes to reach 500 matches for the year, Briscoe said.
Collins, who volunteered a lot through the Crystal Lake Lions Club, hadn’t thought of joining
before he read a newspaper article his wife gave him, he said, adding he thinks men just tend to
not even think of mentoring and when they do, they think they don’t have enough time.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County asks that bigs spend at least eight hours a month
with their littles, or get together two to four times a month, Briscoe said.
“I thought it’d kind of be weird at first,” LeeAndre said. “But then after like a couple years with
him, it’s been really fun. Peter’s just cool to be around and open. It’s just cool to hang out with
LeeAndre’s mother, Tanya Harrington, had signed him up after she split up with his father and
LeeAndre started getting in a bit of trouble, she said. She wanted him to have a consistent
positive influence in his life.
“He’s done things that I don’t think he would have done on his own like the volunteer work that
they’ve done,” she said. “Being a single parent, there’s just no time to really be involved in stuff
LeeAndre now has a father figure in his life, but most of the boys in Big Brothers Big Sisters of
McHenry County are raised by one parent, usually the mother, Match Support Specialist Angie
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