Hiebert happy to be a ‘Big Brother’

By Kelly Breckunitch
Newton Kansan – January 30, 2017

Photo by Kelly Breckunitch

Photo by Kelly Breckunitch

January is National Mentoring Month, with the goal of both recruiting for the cause and bringing attention to the many individuals in local communities across the country who already commit to giving their support and guidance to those around them.

Focusing specifically on fostering such relationships between adult mentors and children in need, Kansas Big Brothers Big Sisters aims to create supportive relationships to help change kids’ lives for the better. Newton firefighter Rob Hiebert recognized the importance of that role, and it didn’t take much to convince him to volunteer with the Harvey County branch of the organization six years ago.

“It was a way to become involved in a kids’s life that maybe just needed the encouragement. That’s how I viewed it,” Hiebert said.

Hiebert admitted it was a former coworker’s participation that got the ball rolling for him, as Josh Ellis worked closely with the organization as a “big.” Friends and members of the same shift at the Newton Fire/EMS Department, Hiebert followed suit. The “littles” they were both assigned turned out to be cousins, so they ended up doing a lot of activities (i.e. playing basketball) together as well.

While Ellis moved away, Hiebert remains involved in Newton as part of a site-based Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Match support specialist at the Newton office Chris Allen noted there are both site-based (held at designated locations) and community-based (at rotating locations) programs as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorships, with the goal of getting “bigs” to interact with their “littles” at least once a week.

Meeting at school, Hiebert noted he holds pretty true to that schedule, and what he and his “little” do each week varies. As involved as his “little” is in sports, that usually revolves around shooting hoops, playing soccer, etc., though it can be as simple as chatting about routine things as well.

“By and large, it’s just time one on one and we talk about anything from how the day’s going to the score of the football game to wherever his conversation would care to go,” Hiebert said.

As irregular as his schedule can be as a firefighter, added to his “little’s” own commitments, Hiebert noted the teachers’ cooperation has been key in successfully fostering this relationship, and has also allowed for some unique opportunities, like taking part in his “little’s” P.E. class.

Visible as a big brother in the school environment, that role was one Hiebert was drawn to from some of his own personal experiences.

“Having kids in the public school system and just seeing the kids around them and recognizing the number of needs,” Hiebert said, “that was probably, as far as a motivation, the most motivation.”

Surprised as Hiebert is that his “little” chooses to continue with the program, a discussion they have each year, he is glad to continue playing his part and support his “little” in any way he may need.

“I’m not a disciplinarian. I’m not there to be the corrector of anything,” Hiebert said. “I’m there as a neutral party in that I am there just to encourage him in life.”

Difficult as it is to quantify the impact mentors in Big Brother Big Sisters have, Hiebert noted you can see that relationship being formed over time. Both Hiebert and Allen noted it takes just a short amount of time to contribute to that, but it can mean so much and Hiebert encourages anyone who can to become involved.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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