Marlena Tidmore, 22, is a senior majoring in Accountancy at Auburn University. She has been a part of Auburn’s Project Uplift for ten months.
Previously known as the Big Brother/ Big Sister Program, Project Uplift is a volunteer-based program where volunteers and youth establish strong one-to-one relationships. The main goal of the program is to help children develop constructive, happy lives so that the delinquency rate in our county will decrease. “Project Uplift has been a highlight of my time at Auburn University,”
said Tidmore. “It’s an amazing feeling to know you’re making a difference in a child’s life.”
Project Uplift offers volunteer services to Lee County children at no cost to their families. Since its opening in July 1973, more than 5,500 volunteers and children have participated in the program. Presently, there are 845 people in the program. Only a small percentage of the children who were involved with the program have entered the juvenile court system.
Tidmore was partnered with two sisters named Chakeria, 11, and Charkia, 10, Jackson. She takes them out to spend time with them at least once a week. They enjoy going swimming, playing at the park and going out for ice cream. Tidmore also likes to incorporate teaching into their visits. She has been teaching them how to cook healthy foods and taking them out to exercise.
“I help them with their homework and anything else they need me to do,”
said Tidmore. “They really are like my little sisters.”
Any person over the age of 18 can participate in the program. Anyone interested must attend a four hour training session, present references from three responsible adults, complete an interview with a Project Uplift coordinator, complete a background check with the Alabama Department of Human Resources, complete a national criminal background check using fingerprinting, submit a TB skin test that is no more than two years old, complete a driving record check and pay a $20 application fee.
As a volunteer, you must spend one year in the program. Each week, you will be spending an average of three hours a week with the child/children assigned to you. Course credit is available to qualified volunteers for their Project Uplift work after they have been active for one semester.
Project Uplift is governed by the Lee County Youth Development Center's board of directors. Additional major support comes from the cities of Opelika and Auburn, the Lee County United Way and several voluntary contributions. The Department of Psychology, in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University, provides in-kind services and office space to the volunteer program through the Psychological Services Center.
For more information, please visit the Project Uplift Web site
or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.