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The Antelope

The Antelope

Burrus follows heart to give back


Friends Program offers volunteer opportunities to participants

Amanda Demilt
Antelope staff

Two years ago,  searching for a way to give back, junior, sports management major, Jacob Burrus volunteered for The Friends Program and began mentoring. Each mentor is paired with a youth with similar hobbies and interests. Burrus was paired with third grader Jakob Torres who likes video games and sports.

Burrus began volunteering at a young age with his family through church and the Open-Door Mission. After moving to Kearney for college, he was looking for a way to volunteer. His reason for choosing The Friends Program was simple: “I just always wanted a little brother because I’m the youngest in my family,” he said.

The biggest excuse for not volunteering is a busy schedule. Burrus doesn’t use that as an excuse. He is taking 17 credits this semester, volunteers for The Friends Program and has started working with a girls’ basketball team twice a week.

The Friends Program is a one-on-one mentoring program for Kindergarten through sixth grade. The volunteers spend time with the youth at least once a week. It is not necessary to remain friends, but if the youth is younger than sixth grade, the “big” friend and “little” friend are able to remain friends through the program. 

Torres says he enjoyed spending time with Burrus playing video games, baseball or bowling. They often spent more time together than was required by the program. Torres’ older brother was also in The Friends Program. His mentor was a friend of Burrus. The four would often do activities together.

Torres has since moved to Lincoln leaving Burrus without a current little friend. That doesn’t stop Burrus from volunteering. He is working through the process of finding a new little friend. In the meantime, Burrus works for The Friends Program as a work study.

Since moving, Burrus has remained friends with Torres and his family. “I am friends with his mom on Facebook. As soon as I can make time to go to Lincoln, we are going to catch up,” he said.

The process of becoming a big friend is simple. The big friend fills out an application and after references are returned, they are approved to meet their little friend and the little friend’s parents.

Right now, there is a waiting list for the little friends.

While there are plenty of female big friends, male big friends are in short supply. While both genders of role models are invited, the need is mostly for male big friends. There are many youth in need of a responsible role model.

Many volunteers are UNK students. The remaining come from high school and the community. For more information or to volunteer all are welcome to call The Friends Program at 308-236-2036.

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