Make Your Lunch Count: Mentor a Young ‘Lunch Buddy’
Troy Saeger and 5th grader Dakota met weekly during the 2013-2014 school year as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Lunch Buddies mentoring program.
What if you could improve a child’s self-confidence, relationships, school attendance and performance; decrease his or her chances of gang involvement; and make him or her more optimistic about the future? It’s easier than you think. If you can spare 35 minutes a few times a month, you can make a difference in a local child’s life.
Troy Saeger, Manager IT – Power Group/Interiors, has been mentoring students through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Lunch Buddies program for more than 10 years. Read our Q&A with Saeger to learn more about his experience and how you can help a child in need.
Q: What is Lunch Buddies?
A: Lunch Buddies matches volunteers with elementary school students (grades 1-5) in Sheboygan County. Once a week, you meet during the child’s lunch hour to spend time playing games, talking and getting to know one another. You can pick the day of the week, but it is very flexible. If you need to reschedule or cancel a week, it’s no problem, which is nice to know with our crazy work schedules.
Q: How long have you been a Lunch Buddy, and how did you get involved?
A: I’ve been participating in the program for more than 10 years and mentored four children. A coworker introduced me to it, and I knew right away it was something I wanted to do. Now,
I’ve recruited many family members, friends and colleagues.
Q: What would you tell someone who is interested in joining?
A: Many people are skeptical of how much of an impact you can make in a child’s life in only a 35-minute lunch a few times a month. But when you walk into the school, you’re like a star to the kids, because all they really want is an adult who listens to them and cares. You don’t even need any experience with kids; it’s that easy. It is also very reenergizing and refreshing. After returning from Lunch Buddy sessions, my afternoons are extremely productive.
Q: With four children of your own and a packed schedule, why do you keep coming back to the program?
A: I spend a lot of time with my children and their classmates at school, church and coaching sports, and can see the disparity between kids who do and don’t have strong role models in their lives. If you look at the statistics on Lunch Buddies, these kids improve so much. You give just a little bit, and you get so much back.