The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Big Brothers/Big Sisters raises funds, celebrates


February 25, 2019

Steve Newman/Daily Globe

MEMBERS OF the Ironwood Red Devils basketball team are also mentors to younger kids in the school as part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Pictured, from left, are players Drew Dabb, Sawyer Stengard, Mason Recla, Ethan Roehm, Griff Revoyr, Tommy Lundin, Jake Joki and Joseph Kasich.


Ironwood - Saturday, groups of bowlers gathered at Larry's Lucky Strikes in Ironwood to raise funds for and celebrate the work of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program in the area. In addition to bowling, there were prize drawings and contests, food and fun and a 50/50 raffle.

According to Gogebic Range area program coordinator Amber Renaud, those raising funds sought a donation per bowler. In addition, those who are mentors also came and bowled and joined in the fun.

The program matches an older high school student - usually a junior - with a third grader.

Among the bowlers was a group of young men on the L.L. Wright High School varsity boys' basketball team, all of whom are or have been mentors. The mentors are assigned at the start of the school year and get opportunities during school time to spend time with their young person. According to Maggie Munch, program director for the western U.P., there are about 65 mentor matches locally between older and younger students.

According to junior Tommy Lundin, he has seen changes in the young person he mentors over the school year. "He has more of a comfort level around his classmates, and has been helped to engage with others better," he said.

Junior Sawyer Stengard is a mentor to two different kids. "I love it," he said. He has sometimes been able to help kids with homework in addition to helping with problems with other kids, "especially around Valentine's Day," he said.

Matt Agee was acting as the master of ceremonies to help to keep the fun coming and the tempo high throughout the event. He was happy to "volunteer his time for a good cause." There were giveaways and games where bowlers could win prizes every few minutes. As a result, the teams raising funds also have a good time.

One of the teams, a group from Aspirus Hospital calling themselves the "Aspirus Grandkids," Melissa Hillier, Cheryl Taivalmaa and Sue Kaffine, talked about their passion for the event. Hillier stated the event was important to her because it is "all about the kids." Taivalmaa stated the event has a "good core group and good times together."

Kaffine is a top fund raiser for the event, even raising funds from people out of the area. She said the event was important to her because "the money stays here." The funds raised support local operations, and she said that local people are "very generous." The group from Aspirus has been working together for many years, and they have a "good team with lots of support."

In addition to the school mentors, a group of Gogebic Community College students who are being mentored came to have fun and take part. Taylor Goard, a freshman from Ontonagon, said that she appreciates having a mentor and is a mentor in training for next year. Mentors have helped with some of the adjustments of "living on your own," she said.


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