Two local residents have begun working with the West Central Texas division of the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency and hope to organize such a program for Brown County.

The women are hosting a meeting next week that could be a big step toward getting the “one-on-one mentoring program” through the Big Brothers Big Sisters agency set up in the county.

On Monday Janet Ardoyno, president and CEO of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Central Texas in Abilene, visited with Tammy Robinson and Amber Moore, who had each asked about a Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Brownwood.

Moore, who has been teaching in Richland Springs and who will be teaching at Woodland Heights Elementary this coming year, said she had realized “for a while” that a lot of children in the area could benefit from a Big Brothers Big Sisters program. She had e-mailed Ardoyno in April and inquired how a program could get started.

Then, within weeks, Ardoyno said, she had a second e-mail from Robinson, who had a “big sister” when she was a young girl and also believed there was a “tremendous need for a Big Brothers Big Sisters program here,” she said.

Two meetings, one at noon and a second one at 4 p.m., have been scheduled for next Tuesday in the Waldrop Room of the Family Services Center, 901 Ave. B, just off Austin Avenue. Lunch will be provided at the noon meeting, Ardoyno said.

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships with measurable results, Ardoyno said. According to studies, she added, children matched with a “Big” are 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol and 52 percent less likely to skip school.

“We recruit the volunteers, we train the volunteers, we screen and do the background and criminal checks,” Ardoyno said. “We contact the parent, the child and the volunteer.”

The commitment asked of a volunteer is approximately 8 hours a month with a minimum of an hour a week.

If the agency were to set up a program in Brown County, about $100,000 start up money would be raised. That would allow for some materials and two staff people. Staff would be housed at the FSC.

“But I am so encouraged,” Ardoyno said. “One thing that appeals to us is the strong volunteer base in Brown County. Already we have the support of a number of agencies, and some viable resources — like Howard Payne University.”

Robinson said a Big Brothers Big Sisters program would work in addition to any other program in the community, not take the place of.

“It’s a wonderful, rewarding opportunity — for the ‘Big’ and for the ‘Little,’” she said.

For more information about volunteering and about the program, contact Moore at 641-8267, or Ardoyno at her Abilene office, or 325-677-7839.