PACE — Pace Rotary’s latest guest speaker was Paula Shell from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Florida.

As a volunteer-supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters has made matches between adults (Bigs) and children ages 6-18 (Littles) for 100 years. A Navy chaplain who wanted to serve as a Big Sister while stationed here brought the local chapter to Northwest Florida in 1989. 

Last year, 650 children were matched with mentors but another 250 are on the waiting list for a “Big.” This includes 30 children in Santa Rosa County. 

The program’s goal is to develop connections that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people. Volunteers go through an interview process to match their skills and interest with the child who could benefit most.

The commitment for school-based mentoring is one hour per week at a nearby school. Community-based mentoring is more flexible and allows the Big and Little to spend time together out in the community two to four times per month. Such outings can range from going for a walk and working on arts and crafts to taking a bike ride or watching a movie.  

Pace Rotary meets 7 a.m. Thursdays at Stonebrook Golf Club, 3200 Cobblestone Drive, Pace.