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$870,000 helps Big Brothers Big Sisters in Brazos County expand

Posted at 6:50 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 07:50:29-05

ROBERTSON COUNTY, Texas — Through the partnership of two school districts, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Brazos County is expanding its efforts across the community.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is growing thanks to a $870,000 grant awarded to Hearne ISD. A newly developed after-school program gives students the chance to explore their interests while also being mentored.

JaMarion Tates loves to embark on new challenges, so he dove headfirst with excitement when he learned about the new mentoring opportunity at his school.

"Yeah, I didn’t think people would want to sign up but they did anyway," said JaMarion Tates, the first Robertson County mentee. "So that’s pretty cool.”

Developing this program has been a labor of love for Marlise Golden-Thomas. It's essentially come full circle for her.

Golden-Thomas began her career at Hearne ISD as a receptionist for a similar program years back. But now she started from scratch to make it bigger and better.

”We started off at ground zero," said Golden-Thomas, the project director for the after-school program. "At ground zero, we started running. I mean when I say we started running we started running... We started running.”

Golden-Thomas returned to her hometown to enrich the next generation with the help of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

”Any opportunity to offer the students who live in a town that may not have this opportunity of mentorship is a great one," said Terry Dougherty, branch director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Brazos Valley. "It will enrich lives of the students, it will enrich lives of volunteers and overall make the school and community better.”

These mentors help students from Hearne and Calvert ISD enhance their education and encourage them with the endless possibilities of what their futures can hold.

”We want to bring in any type of activities that the kids would be willing to do," said Golden-Thomas. "One thing that the students talked about and we’re in the process of getting started is hair braiding.”

Tates is so far the only students matched with a mentor but since starting he has helped encourage other students to seek their big brother or sister too.

“You’ll have a lot of fun, and you will also try new things that you’ve never tried before,”said Tates.

They hope to continue growing, accepting as many students as possible and including other subjects of interest they'd like to learn more about.

If you're interested in becoming a mentor learn more here.