(WCMH) — A recent study shows 20% of youth say they’ve lost contact with an important adult in their life over the past year. It’s why the need for mentors for youth has never been greater.

On Thursday, April 28, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio is hoping to recruit 60 mentors to match with children in our community.

Yufei Mao has been with her “Little Sister” Katerin for 2 1/2 years, and in that short time, they have created a bond they hope to last a lifetime.

“I really see it as a privilege to have gotten to know her and watch her grow and mature all that time and really become an advocate for herself,” said Mao. “It’s been an experience I don’t think I would have had otherwise if Big Brothers Big Sisters didn’t exist.”

“The experience has just been eye-opening to connect with someone I otherwise may not have even met in my own community. And to have laughs together, experiences together is so meaningful to me.”

Andy Bailey got involved with the organization 1 1/2 years ago after his daughter left for college. Now, he’s a “Big Brother” to 7-year-old Durone.

“I’ve been very blessed in my life so I just wanted to give back,” said Bailey. “I’ve always been interested in volunteering and helping with young people and being a mentor and I’ve just seen him grow and I’ve grown too, in the year and a half. We’ve just created a really good bond and I love him like my own.”

Studies have shown that children who have role models do better in school and are less likely to be involved in risky behaviors. Last year alone, Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Ohio served more than 4,200 youth organization-wide, And yet, there are still a number of youths on a waitlist hoping to be connected to a mentor like Andy and Yufei, who are making a positive impact in the lives of their “Littles.”

“It’s great because it’s just like anything. One person, one child at a time,” said Bailey. “And we can really make a really big difference.”

“For anyone in this community who loves Columbus like I do, who wants to get involved, who wants to mentor and guide the next generation of local leaders, it’s really a no-brainer to get involved,” said Mao.

In conjunction with the NFL’s “Inspire Change” initiative, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio is holding “The Big Draft” event, hoping to recruit those 60 mentors.

You can attend at one of three locations Thursday:

  • Beeline at Easton, 6-8 p.m., 3989 Merchants Row, Columbus, OH
  • Gather, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 53 N. Sandusky St, Delaware, OH
  • Mother Stewart’s Brewing, 6-8 p.m., 102 W. Columbia St, Springfield, OH

You can also visit their website for more information on how you can get involved.