Julie Webb knew she wanted to volunteer to be a “big sister” and mentor. But as a working mom of two, she was afraid to commit.
“I wasn’t sure I’d have enough time to do it outside of work,” she said. “So when we were launching the Beyond School Walls program, I thought this would be a great opportunity to volunteer and mentor at work.”
Her employer, Mid Penn Bank, signed up to participate in the Beyond School Walls program, which brings high school students into the workplace every other week, during school and work hours.
“It’s been very rewarding,” Webb said.
She instantly forged a relationship with Susquehanna Township senior Cassandra Zart.
“It was really rewarding to see that a woman can have such a high position in her career and also still be a great mom, involved in her community and passionate about empowering the youth,” Zart said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region says there are more than 100 kids like Zart currently waiting for a mentor.
Spokesperon Krystina Shultz says Zart and Webb are proof that the program works. But in order for it to keep working, people need to step up.
“You don’t have to have any experience with kids,” Shultz said. “You don’t have to feel like you’re at any specific place in your life. All we’re asking is that you spend time. Everything else comes naturally. Just be there to listen.”
Webb has helped to set up college tours for Zart.
“She has a very bright future ahead of her,” Webb said. “I hope our relationship doesn’t end when she graduates in the spring.”
And Zart says because of her “big sister,” she’s not only more organized, but more focused on her future.
“I really do want to say ‘thank you’ to Miss Julie for being my ear to talk to and my words of wisdom and my voice of reason,” Zart said.
“My 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.