Big Brothers Big Sisters

Big Brothers Big Sisters – Elkhart County

Be a Big  

Big Brothers Big Sisters Creates Positive Mentoring Relationships

Writer / Matt Keating 
Photographer / Kari Lipscomb

Shelby and Wes Kowal with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County (BBBS) have thoroughly enjoyed the program, and encourage others to get involved. 

“The program is located in Goshen, Indiana, south of Dunlap,” Wes says. “The office is right next door to one of our amazing donors, DJ Construction.”

Shelby believes the program has helped to give kids positive role models.

Big Brothers Big Sisters

“I am the community manager with BBBS, and I am a Big Sister,” Shelby says. “Wes is the CEO of Next Level Pixels and is a Big Brother. Being a Big means you are a caring adult who is a consistent, positive role model to a child or children in our community. We are the first in this agency to have two little [brothers] instead of just one. The boys are identical twins and turned 9 in August.” 

BBBS has been serving Elkhart kids for more than 50 years. 

“Their mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of our youth,” Wes says. “One-to-one mentoring creates opportunities and experiences that build confidence and help our youth succeed in life.” 

The program doesn’t require a special occasion or expensive activities. It involves a few hours per month to share the simple things in life that the mentors already enjoy doing. It can also be an activity the kids like. 

Shelby says the program is one of a kind.

“We have been matched with the boys for a little over a year now, and throughout our time together we’ve seen them go from shy, reluctant kids to being full of life, confident and willing to try new experiences,” Shelby says. “As the mentors, it has been a very rewarding experience for us. Whenever we get together, we get to be kids again too, and laugh and be silly. They have taught us how to be in the moment, and enjoy our time together. The boys have become a part of our family. We do holidays and birthdays together, and just call each other to check in. We love our time we get to spend with them.” 

Big Brothers Big Sisters

Local residents have made the program a success. 

“We live in a tight-knit community who cares deeply for our youth, and want to see each and every one of our kids succeed,” Shelby says. “Our community loves our organization, and continues to support us every day. We are very grateful to be surrounded and supported by such a wonderful community.” 

A lot of time and effort is put into matching kids with the right mentors.

“Personally, we really like that this program focuses on quality matches,” Shelby says. “The boys and us have a lot in common, which makes it fun to hang out. We also love that we are making a difference in the boys’ lives, and getting to watch them be kids and grow up feeling safe, loved and confident that they can do whatever they set their minds on. We love being able to experience life together. We took them to their very first Notre Dame football game and it was such a blast, not only because Notre Dame won, but because the kids’ smiles and laughs are contagious. We all had such a wonderful day together and we didn’t want it to end.” 

Shelby believes being a mentor has truly changed her life. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters

“The boys are so special to us, and it does not take a lot of time to make a difference in a child’s life,” Shelby says. “If anyone is interested in learning more about our program or how to get involved, please go to our website,, or send an email to me at I will be happy to talk more about our program, and all the good it is doing in our community and the lives of our youth.” 

Anyone interested in the program can also call Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County, located at 3320 Elkhart Road in Goshen, at 574-830-5013.

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