Tim Lipp and Joe Satrom will have known each other 40 years this spring.
They've been fishing together and have gone to movies together. Their ages are even apparent to a degree by the lines that have shown on their faces with time. But Lipp and Satrom aren't the same age — they don't have that kind of relationship.
Satrom was married and contemplating starting a family when he met Lipp and his brother in the spring of 1973. He'd heard things about the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization, what it did for community youth and how it could help give him exposure before having kids of his own.
Lipp was just 10 years old and in need of a mentor.
Forty years later, the pair remain close. At an informational meeting on Thursday for the Mississippi Valley BBBS affiliate that serves Warren and McDonough counties, they recalled their time together and with the organization.
"Kids who grow up in single-parent households often feel a loss. This organization helps fill in that gap so that loss dissipates," said Lipp, a current board member and among the founders of the affiliate when it began several years ago out of Macomb. "I grew up without a father. My dad was a Korean War vet and was confound to a disabled veterans home when I was very young. There was a huge gap. I didn't even know what it was like to call someone 'dad' on a daily basis. Joe helped fill that void."
Satrom had driven down from Bismarck, N.D., to share his experience Thursday.
Those close to the organization's local affiliate say they're in need of individuals to participate "at all levels." Dan Yoder, who heads the affiliate's board of directors, said people in attendance at Thursday's meeting had been invited to consider getting involved.
"Whether they want to be on the board, whether they want to be a big or whether they just want to be somebody who's interested in the program," he said, "we kind of handpicked these folks. And we know that they're busy. We know that they're involved. That's the kind of people we want."
Currently, no one from Warren County serves on the board of directors, said the affiliate's program director, Kim Lampitt. Duties for such a position, she said, would entail setting goals and other ongoing agendas for the program.
As for adults getting involved as a big for the community-based program, she said there is a minimum six hours of meeting with a little — ages 6 to 15 — required each month.
Both Lampitt and Yoder cited the program's benefits — improved school performance, fewer interactions with law enforcement and better behavior at home — among the reasons to get involved.
Lampitt said the affiliate has a goal to serve 70 children by June 30 and has so far this fiscal year served 50 with all of its programs.
"Unfortunately, we have a mailing list of 'littles' who need bigs," Yoder said, adding acting as a big is "not terribly burdensome."
Satrom said he's in fact received just as much, if not more, by being involved, adding Thursday he had a "debt to repay."
"We've camped and fished and gone to movies. We've done all kinds of things," he said of his BBBS relationship with Lipp and his brother. "It's kind of a kick. Years ago I would provide the transportation and the resources; now these guys invite me on their fishing trips."
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley, call its base at 563-323-8006 or Warren and McDonough counties group at 309-837-5437.