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Big Brothers Big Sisters WI Shoreline needs over 200 volunteers to match with kids on record-long waitlist

Posted at 11:27 PM, Aug 23, 2022

MANITOWOC, Wis. (NBC 26) — For around two hours a week, Jimbo Modl goes on an adventure with a friend in need of some guidance and consistency.

"This is my little," he said, pointing to his friend. "I'm the big, and this is my little. His name is Santana."

Together, they'll grab pizza or head to places like the wildlife sanctuary.

"We go to the park," Modl said. "His favorite game is tag, so we like to play tag and some of the kids get in it and we play tag all the time."

Those moments mean everything to nine-year-old Santana.

"If you're just lonely and you want somebody to help you be happier, he made me happier and then I have more stuff to look up to," he said.

But there are hundreds of other children just like Santana in the Manitowoc-Sheboygan area.

"Right now, we have over 200 kids waiting to meet just a really great man or woman who's interested in being a big brother or big sister, which is the largest number we've ever had on our waiting list," Big Brothers Big Sisters WI Shoreline CEO Denise Wittstock said.

Her organization needs volunteers who have a little bit of extra time to fill that void.

"People spend a couple hours a month together like you would with a friend," Wittstock said. "Sometimes it's after work. After school, you're grabbing a burger and having a conversation about your day. Sometimes, you're making plans for the weekend."

The youth development program expects the need to rise during the school year.

"I would just be bored all day doing nothing," Santana said. "I would probably just play video games all day doing nothing."

The CEO says the longer kids go without that extra support, they're missing out on feeling self confidence and reaching their full potential.

Right now, Santana is well on his way.

"Now I have him and it's way better now," he said, looking at his big. "So if more people join the Big Brothers Big Sisters… then the building will go higher and higher and higher. And then that can help way more people."

Big brother Jimbo feels the same way. The duo wants nearly 200 other local kids to get the same type of experience.

"He always tells me, 'oh you're my favorite,'" Modl said. "'I'm so glad they matched us.' That in itself, it's tear-jerking as a matter of fact."

In 2021, Big Brothers Big Sisters WI Shoreline served 295 kids and the organization has served nearly 20,000 children for the past six decades. Between bigs, board members, committee members and others who volunteer time at special events, it has about 325 volunteers per year.