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Mentor does 'sister act'

September 23, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HALFWAY

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Jocelyn Mojica and her 8-year-old "little sister" can spend hours on the phone swapping cheerleading tips and talking about boys, movies and music.

"She's such a talk-a-holic," Mojica said. "Oh, she can talk my ear off."

Mojica, 20, of Halfway, is a "big sister," a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national youth mentoring program that pairs adults with at-risk youths ages 5 to 18, said Crystal Davis, casework supervisor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County.

Davis said young mentors like Mojica are hard to find. In the past, young mentors have had difficulties juggling school and other priorities around the program's required time commitment, Davis said. The program has placed 75 children with mentors, but has 23 children on a waiting list, she said.

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"We need mentors who are extremely dependable and consistent," Davis said. "These children, they've had many disappointments in their lives. We try to avoid that."

She said mentors can spend anywhere from one to five hours a week with their matched child, depending on the program.

"It seems like a minimal time commitment, but it makes a big difference to the children," Davis said.

Mojica works and is a full-time student at Hagerstown Community College. Outside of school and volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mojica said she spends two to three hours a week volunteering at Williamsport Retirement Village.

"My grandmother used to be in a nursing home," she said. "It's hard not having anybody. I couldn't imagine not having my family come in."

Next year, Mojica plans to attend Shippensburg (Pa.) University. She said she still plans to be a mentor.

"I'm a busy girl, but I make time for it," she said.

Mojica and the girl she mentors were matched in August. Mojica said she spends at least five hours with her little sister each week, visiting her at school and taking her places.

So far, Mojica said her favorite activity is watching her little sister cheer at football games. Mojica, a former cheerleader at Williamsport High School, said she was nervous for her little sister during her first game Labor Day weekend.

"I knew exactly how she felt," she said. "I could put myself in her place."

She said going to the zoo will be their next big activity.

Mojica said children are her passion. She said she plans to be a child therapist after college.

"(Children are) our future," she said. "I just wish everyone could see how important it is to teach the children."

Davis said children benefit from Mojica's positive outlook on life.

"I think she's just one of the most lovely, energetic people I've ever met," Davis said. "She just always seems to be in a good mood, and I think having such a positive attitude rubs off on her little sister. They definitely look like sisters when they are together."

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