Millions of children need a caring adult role model.
When children and teens have the influence of a caring adult, they are more likely to avoid risky behaviors and to focus on academics. Today's youth face a variety of challenges, and being matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister can help them navigate these challenges and reach their potential.
What's New from Big Brothers Big Sisters
18 Years of Sisterhood
After spending years in foster care, Little Sister Jennifer began living with her mom again. It was a tough transition, and her mom knew Jennifer needed someone else in her corner. She signed her up to become a Little Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, and that decision changed the entire trajectory of Jennifer’s life.
A Match There for Graduations
When Big Brother Randall told Little Brother Henry he would be graduating with his MBA, Henry gave him a big high five and asked if he could attend. Randall immediately said yes. “I knew this was a moment that would be a giant seed in his mind, and if he could see the graduation and I could give him a high five there, it would be a huge positive influence in his life,” Randall says. Randall’s plan worked perfectly. He gave Henry a high-five after the ceremony, and Henry told him that he wanted to graduate high school and college — just like his Big Brother.
Fictional Mentors Inspire Real-Life Mentor
Big Sister Portsha grew up with a very busy single mother. Her mom didn’t really have time to craft or read, or to be silly with Portsha and try to touch the tip of her nose with her tongue, as Portsha liked doing. She was devoted to working and providing for Portsha and didn’t have a lot of spare time. Because of this, Portsha felt she was missing a mentor in her life, so she made mentors for herself out of pop culture icons. “My mentors and role models were the powerful and brave girls and women I would read about in books, like Scout in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ or see in movies, like Disney’s ‘Mulan,’” Portsha says. “And of course, Oprah. Everybody loves Oprah.” By the time she was an adult herself, she knew she wanted to be a real-life mentor for someone, and signing up to be a Big Sister gave her the perfect opportunity.
When Little Brother Marcus was just 3 years old, his aunt took full custody of him because neither of his parents were in a place to raise him. One of his parents was struggling with opioid addiction and the other was not a consistent presence. Marcus has lived with his aunt and four female cousins since then, and he has struggled with dealing with his anger. Marcus often found himself called down to the school office for an outburst in the classroom or on the playground. When he was in first grade, his family received a letter in the mail about a program called “Big Brothers Big Sisters,” and Marcus’s life changed forever.
From a young age, Little Sister Sky felt her life spinning out of control. She grew up in a house with drug use and physical abuse, witnessed her house raided by police, and at one point was physically abused herself. It was then she knew that she couldn’t live there anymore. She moved in with a friend before finding a stable guardian in a different part of town. She found even more stability when she was matched with her Big Sister Jess.
At the age of 2, Little Brother Baylee lost his eyesight. As he grew up, his mother wanted a mentor for him because his dad wasn’t involved in his life, but she wasn’t sure if there would be a Big Brother who would be willing to be matched with a Little who is blind. Big Brother Al didn’t balk at being matched with a blind Little Brother, and they have been now been matched for nearly eight years.
Little Sister Starr was matched with Big Sister Marilyn when she was 5 years old. At the time, she was being raised by her mother and her grandmother, and her mom was struggling with health and addiction issues. It would have been easy for Starr to grow up with a limited view of what was possible for her, but spending time with Marilyn helped her avoid that. “I have looked at Marilyn’s house and thought ‘I can have a house like this,’” Starr says. “I can have a bedroom like this. I don’t have to live in public housing anymore.” With Marilyn by her side, Starr knows her potential is unlimited.
How does Big Brothers Big Sisters help Kasaius?
When Big Brothers Big Sisters works to match a Little with a Big, we take into account the needs, personality, interests, and goals of both the child and the adult volunteer. We introduce the Little and his or her family to the Big slowly and make sure everyone is fully committed to the match before it is made official. Little Brother Kasaius is outgoing and up for anything, so he needed a Big who was creative and had a variety of interests.
Children like Kasaius get the most out of their one-to-one relationship with their Big when the Big, the parent or guardian, and the child talk openly with their Match Support Specialist. Working as part of the team helping the child succeed, the Match Support Specialist can help identify problems, brainstorm solutions, and connect the family with essential services.
When Kasaius’ Big Brother saw the email from BBBS saying that there were spots open in a free acting class, he jumped at the chance to take Kasaius. BBBS affiliates across the country provide activities for Bigs and Littles and also alert Bigs to opportunities in the community. This enables Bigs to get to know other Bigs, who might be experiencing similar things and who might have great suggestions for more new activities.
Screening and Training
Child safety is Big Brothers Big Sisters’ highest priority. To achieve the highest standards possible, we work constantly to review and strengthen our background check systems as new best practices in the industry emerge. We also make sure our Bigs and our staff have the training and resources they need to help Littles on their path to success.