Big Brothers/Big Sisters help students succeed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Big Brothers/Big Sisters help students succeed

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Kids need adult role models, but sometimes it's hard to find good ones. That is why organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters are so important.

Michael Lujan and Julian Moore are brothers.

"I like to spend time and have fun with him," Moore said.

But Lujan and Moore aren't related by blood, instead they are connected through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

"He means a lot to me. I think over this last year we have grown and started to know each other. I can't imagine how life was like last year when I didn't know him," Lujan said.

Lujan and Moore only spend a few hours a week together. Some of it is just for fun, but Lujan hopes Moore learns from him too.

"I have taught him how to open doors for people and say thank you a lot. It makes me smile when he opens the door and for the people to say thank you. That makes me smile," Lujan said .

"Children in our program have higher self esteem, greater aspirations, they do better in school," Maria Benham said.

Maria Benham is the director of Big Brothers/ Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa. She says it costs $1,000 to make and sustain one match for one year.

"That includes the cost of background checks, liability insurance, reference checks, interviews. It also covers the cost for an on going match support and supervision," Benham said.

For participants like Lujan and Moore, its worth every penny.

"Who knows if I ever would have met Julian on the street. He is a great kid. I am glad I can be part of that as well," Lujan said.

The Cedar Valley United Way uses donated money to support agencies and programs that address community needs in three areas: education, health and income. The organization is currently attempting to raise $3.2 million to fund those programs, though need has been estimated to be about $4 million. The campaign ends Jan. 31. Donations are accepted online at www.cedarvalleyunitedway.org or can be mailed to Cedar Valley United Way, 425 Cedar St., Suite 300, Waterloo, IA, 50701.

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