WORCESTER, Mass. — Steve Taviner and 16-year-old Simon Greening have visited Worcester Art Museum frequently during the pandemic — most recently, to check out the museum’s newest exhibit. 

Four years ago, the two were matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metrowest.

What You Need To Know

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metro West is looking for volunteers

  • There are about 100 kids on the waiting list in Worcester County

  • Bigs have to go though a background check and training 

  • There is a shortage of Bigs across the nation

“It's really nice. I get to experience a lot of culture that I couldn’t otherwise, because my mom can’t drive and my dad is always at work, so we wouldn’t really go anywhere," Greening said. 

Taviner and Greening share interests like art, books, and politics.

“I love experiencing the world from his point of view," Taviner said. "It’s really fun and interesting."

About 100 kids like Greening are waiting for matches in Worcester County. It’s a list that has grown during the pandemic. Area CEO Connie Askin said the problem isn’t unique to Central Massachusetts.

“We are down in the number of matches tremendously," Askin said. "We took at least a 50% hit, and that compares to other Big Brothers Big Sisters nationally, where we have heard anything from 25 to 75% in their numbers."

The organization is looking to fill the void, by finding volunteers who can spend one hour each week with their match, for a full year.

“It feels good. I’d recommend it," Taviner said. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters leaders said that after a year of remote learning, kids need time to be social.

“They are craving that human connection with an adult who cares for them, who can listen to them, share a pizza, have that other really important adult presence in their life, and I think it’s more important than ever," Askin said. 

And for pairs like Taviner and Greening, the connection after four years is clear.

“I don’t really see him as a mentor," Greening said. "I see him more as like family."

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor, you can visit  Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Mass & Metro West.