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First-year Luke Smith gives 9-year-old Justin a piggy-back ride at Brookdale Elementary School. Smith and 11 other PLU students partnered with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Brookdale Elementary.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Brookdale Elementary School reflects the Pacific Lutheran University motto that encourages thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care to the community.

Twelve college student volunteers go to Brookdale, only a few blocks south of PLU, once a week for about an hour to work with the elementary students. The college students have committed to volunteer for a year.

“We love working with PLU students because of their volunteer spirit,” Shanna Faulkenberry, coordinator for the Brookdale program of Big Brothers Big Sisters, said.

Volunteers who work with the elementary students meet the children’s needs and promote education by reading books, focus ing on building their self esteem and learning about themselves. The volunteers also play board games or outside games with the kids.

Later on in the semester, Big Brothers Big Sisters want the volunteers to help the kids with a science project. The Big Brothers and Big Sisters also sit and eat with the kids during their lunch period Wednesdays and Thursdays.

“The goal is to make a long lasting, self sustaining sense of self worth within these kids,” Kerrisan Meyer, case manager for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program at PLU, said. “PLU students have a lot to offer, and the kids are always excited when they come in.”

Some of the volunteers work with kids who can be disruptive during class. Meyer said this one-on-one time the children get with PLU volunteers can help the kids learn how to act selflessly in class.

Some of the student volunteers joined this program as part of their major, such as first-year Luke Smith.
“I wanted experience for my major,” Smith said. “I want to work in primary and secondary education, and I had experience from my mom’s daycare. I thought it would be a good idea.”

First-year Kalina Springer said she wanted to get involved to give back to the community.

“It’s great to give the kids one-on-one attention that they might not be getting at home,” Springer said. “It’s good to focus on something all the way through.”

Most of the PLU volunteers learned about the Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Brookdale from the volunteer fair last September.
To get involved in this program, visit the next volunteer fair in fall 2014, or to get involved now, contact Shanna Faulkenberry at

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