Role models imperative for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Being single with some free time on his hands, Joe Miller thought it would be good for the community for him to put that time to use.

Approximately a year ago, Miller was matched as a mentor for Tony Harding, now 7, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

Throughout the past year, the duo have enjoyed cheering on the Marshalltown High School Bobcats at sporting events, swimming and playing video games and sports together.

“It’s a rewarding feeling knowing that you are helping someone else out,” Miller said. “I feel that I’m doing good.”

Harding lives with his grandmother, which means having a positive male figure, like Miller, in his life is important.

“This program is good for kids who don’t have the best opportunities,” Miller said. “A lot of kids these days don’t have that male figure in their lives.”

Miller said his favorite memory of time shared with Harding was a summer swimming outing at Elmwood Country Club.

Harding, who is a student at Woodbury Elementary School, said he loves to play video games with his mentor.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Harding said.

Miller said he has even more plans for the pair in the future. One trip they are looking forward to is to the Sky Zone indoor trampoline park in Grimes.

He also can’t wait to see how Harding grows as they stay connected in the future. Miller has already noticed a difference in the youngster.

“He has opened up to me a lot more,” Miller said.

January is National Mentoring Month, honoring those who have served as role models for the younger generation. Lynne Carroll, director of Big Brothers Big Sisters based in Marshalltown, said they are constantly looking for new mentors to be a part of the program.

“We have a waiting list and we could especially use males as mentors,” Carroll said.

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters, call the office at 641-753-6370.