The waiting list at Big Brothers Big Sisters never shrinks.
“People always ask, ‘Why isn’t the wait list going down?’” said Becky Hatter, president and CEO of the mentorship program’s regional chapter. “It’s because the children just keep coming.”
Meanwhile, mentors to pair with those kids come along at a much slower pace.
That scarcity is highlighted by a quick glance at the wait list for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. The local arm of the national organization has about 1,000 children waiting for a match — 800 of whom are boys.
In 2015 Jim Saali and his wife, Sallye, had “a glorious idea to move to Phoenix,” Mr. Saali recalls in a tone indicating the idea was anything but. “We lasted one year. We were so homesick.” Living several states away, Mr. Saali was wistful for the little things, like running into friends and students at the grocery store. After teaching Spanish at De Smet Jesuit High School for 22 years, he was used to these chance encounters happening all the time — and he missed them tremendously.