More than 100 children are waiting for mentors

Julie Webb knew she wanted to volunteer to be a “big sister” and mentor. But as a working mother of two, she was afraid of commitment.

“I wasn’t sure I would have enough time to do that outside of work,” she said. “So when we were launching Beyond School Walls, I thought this would be a great opportunity to volunteer and mentor at work.”

Her employer, Mid Penn Bank, has signed on to participate in the Beyond School Walls program, which brings high school students into the workplace every two weeks, during school and work hours.
“It was very helpful,” Webb said.

She immediately forms a relationship with Cassandra Zart, one of the chief managers of Susquehanna Town.

“It was really rewarding to see that a woman could hold such a high position in her career and also remain an amazing mother, engaged in her community and passionate about youth empowerment,” said Zart.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region says that there are more than 100 children like Zart who are currently waiting for a mentor.

Spokesperson Christina Schultz says Zart and Webb are proof of the program’s success. But for it to keep working, people need to step things up.

“You don’t have to have any experience with kids,” Schultz said. “You don’t have to feel like you’re in any particular place in your life. All we ask is that you take the time. Everything else comes naturally. Just be there to listen.”

Webb helped organize college tours for Zart.

“She has a very bright future ahead of her,” Webb said. “I hope our relationship doesn’t end when you graduate in the spring.”

Zart says it’s because of her “older sister” that she’s not only more organized, but more focused on her future.

“I really want to say ‘thank you’ to Miss Julie for being my ear to talk to her, my wise words, and my voice of reason,” said Zart.

With pleasure, Webb replied.

If you would like to learn more about mentoring opportunities with Big Brothers Big Sisters, including the Beyond School Walls program, you can visit their website by clicking here.