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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Martins involved in Big Brothers

Friday, January 18, 2013

Vickie Chaplin, chairwoman of the community advisory board for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bourbon County program, prepares to conduct a drawing for prizes during the FSACC Coffee Thursday morning in the FSMS media center. Chaplin and City Manager Dave Martin
(left) talked to attendees about the BBBS program during the coffee.(Jason E. Silvers/Tribune)
Attendees of Thursday morning's Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce Coffee heard about efforts by City Manager Dave Martin and his family to help a local youth mentoring program.

Vickie Chaplin, chairwoman of the community advisory board for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bourbon County program, talked about the program, while Martin explained why he and his wife, Jara, serve as mentors for a local youth.

"Our partnerships with local schools are the reason we have been successful," Chaplin said. "We serve 55 to 60 kids per year."

The nonprofit agency has one full-time employee, BBBS of Bourbon County Executive Director Suziee Barlet, Chaplin said.

"There's no one more compassionate and dedicated to our cause in Bourbon County," Chaplin said.

The organization operates solely on donations and grants and also benefits from the United Way. The agency's biggest fundraiser of the year, a 5K run/walk and one-mile walk, is scheduled for April 6.

Martin and his wife are the first couple matched as "Bigs" in Bourbon County. The "Bigs" spend time with their "Littles" each week.

"I've always admired the organization," Dave said.

Martin said BBBS was one of the first entities he encountered after becoming city manager in 2010. Martin said he attended a kickball game that year between the Fort Scott Fire and Police departments, which included local youth involved in the BBBS program.

"I saw how the kids really looked up to them (adults)," he said.

The Martins have volunteered as mentors for a local youth for more than a year. Dave said they work together to help incorporate the youth into the lives of their family members and get involved in the youth's life through such activities as fishing, taking him to lunch or basketball practice, dropping him off at home, picking him up, or just "giving him a phone call to say 'hello.'"

If something conflicts with Dave's busy slate as city manager, Jara steps in to spend time with the youth, Dave said.

"If I'm tied up, my wife spends time with him," he said.

BBBS helps boys and girls, most of whom are considered at-risk and live in single-parent homes, to achieve their full potential through long-term personal relationships with carefully screened volunteers from the community.

The agency matches youth from 5 to 18 years of age with older mentors.

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