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Big Brothers Big Sisters seeks volunteers

January 27, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL, Chambersburg

Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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Big Brothers Big Sisters seeks volunteers

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - At 59, the father of three and a grandfather of five, Dale Eberly is about to become a big brother.

Eberly, a school bus driver for Chambersburg Area School District, is one of the first volunteers approved by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County. He will be matched up with his "little brother" probably next month.

"I'm anxious to meet my little brother," Eberly said.

With headquarters at the Easter Seal Society building at 55 Hamilton Road in Chambersburg, the Franklin County office of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is open and taking applications for adult volunteers and children.

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Two big brothers, including Eberly, and a big sister have gone through the application and screening process and are ready to be matched with children. Applications for 12 children are being processed.

The program matches a child between the ages of 7 and 16 with an adult volunteer, aged 20 and over, who is required to meet with the child and spend time with him or her at least four times a month, Brown said.

Brown stressed that the mentoring program is about spending quality time with the children, not spending money on them or feeling obligated to take them places.

"There are a lot of different activities you can do without spending money ... It's what you would do with your friends and what you would do with your kids," Brown said.

The main purpose of the program is to provide children who typically are from single-parent households with one-on-one relationships, she said.

Eberly already has some ideas about what he wants to do with his little brother. Fishing is high on the list, as is attending sporting events and including the child in his routine activities. Trips to Hershey Park, the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and other destinations are a possibility, Eberly said.

Male volunteers, particularly male minority volunteers, are usually hard to find, and there are always more children in need than volunteers who apply, Brown said.

The idea to start a local agency evolved from members of the Rotary Club in Chambersburg.

David Pankiw, current president of the local advisory board and a former big brother in Wilmington, Del., joined other Rotary Club members in making preliminary contacts with the national organization to find out what could be done in Franklin County.

"I think anyone can look in their community and drive down the street and see the need. There are always kids hanging around with nothing to do, nobody to talk to ... I don't think there's anyone who can't use an extra friend. It's evident in every community let alone Franklin County," Brown said.

The effort slowed considerably a few years later when organizers couldn't come up with enough money.

The organizers later joined with the Franklin County Commissioners, who were considering plans to introduce the organization into the county and were unaware of the local effort.

Information about the program may be obtained by calling Big Brothers Big Sisters at 1-717-261-0094.

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