Big Brother Tohib and Little Brother Makhari

Big Brother Tohib and Little Brother Makhari

As a football coach, Big Brother Tohib saw that boys truly need positive adult role models. Growing up, he had caring parents who pushed him to reach his potential. “They never settled for ‘good,’” he says. “I always had to work harder.” With his parents’ encouragement, Tohib went to school for finance and earned his Master’s degree. He wanted to give back and help kids who might not have such positive adults in their lives, so he became a Big Brother. He was matched with Little Brother Makhari.

Makhari’s mom wanted to enroll her son as a Little Brother because he needed a role model. “He needed a stable man in his life. Makhari has a relationship with his dad, but due to substance abuse problems, his father is in and out of his life. It has never been stable,” she says. Tohib has been consistent and committed throughout their relationship, calling to check on Makhari in between visits. Makhari says he acts differently because he knows Tohib cares about his grades and his behavior. “I have someone who is looking at the things I am doing and making sure I do the right thing so I can be a good man when I grow up,” Makhari says.

Matched for more than eight years, Tohib and Makhari connected right away. They went to Patriots games and Red Sox games with tickets from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ocean State, and they bonded over sports.

After spending some time with his Little Brother, Big Brother Tohib noticed that he had never learned any money skills. As an accountant, he knew he could teach Little Brother Makhari about the value of a dollar. They started by opening up a bank account for Makhari. “We talked about deposits, withdrawals, keeping a ledger, and saving money,” Tohib says. “It is Makhari’s money in his account. When he earns money, I take him to the bank to deposit it. We talk about interest and how the money can grow if he keeps it in there.”

“I know I cannot slack on my schoolwork because Tohib is going to check in on me.”
– Little Brother Makhari

Their relationship has lasted eight years, but it has not been without its challenges. At one point, Makhari started hanging out with friends who were skipping school. He stopped focusing on homework, and started avoiding Tohib. Tohib tried to help, and ended up frustrated. They took a few months off from scheduling outings together.

Makhari’s school attendance and grades got worse. His mom asked BBBSOS to try to get the relationship back on track. “When our current Match Support Specialist called and asked if I could start seeing Makhari again, I was hesitant,” Tohib says. “Our Match Support Specialist, Heather, told me that she had talked to Makhari and he was ready to make a commitment to our match again. Since then, the match has been going great.”

Last October, the match participated in a walkathon, a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Tohib challenged Makhari to run with him the whole way. “There were a few times when I thought I was going to fall down. Tohib was encouraging the entire time,” Makhari says. “He told me we could go as fast or slow as I wanted. He said if I needed a break, we would take one. He wanted to encourage me but not let me quit. We finished the race running.”

Their relationship is like that walkathon. Makhari says when they took a break and recommitted to their match, he learned that his Big Brother would not give up on him. “Even when I wanted to give up for a while, he did not. We came back together and are even closer now.”


President Obama has issued a proclamation designating January National Mentoring Month.  In the proclamation, he emphasized that mentoring a young person does more than help that one young person; he says mentoring has effects that ripple through communities and strengthen our whole country.

“As a Nation, we are stronger when every individual has the opportunity to contribute to our American story. By working to give each person a better chance at success, we can unlock their potential and empower them to serve others in the same way.”

To read the full Presidential Proclamation, click here.

National Mentoring Month Key Dates:

January 12, 2017 – I Am A Mentor Day

January 16, 2017 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

January 17, 2017 – International Mentoring Day

January 19, 2017 – #ThankYourMentor Day


Meet Markees. He’s a former Little from Los Angeles who snagged his first movie role at 15 and became a star at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Little Brother Markees stars in “Morris from America,” which won awards for acting and screenwriting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

When Markees was in sixth grade, he went through a tough time academically. For extra credit, he took a role in the school play. His Big Brother, Matt, saw a stage presence that needed to be nurtured, so they created videos that showed off Markees’ charm and playfulness. They posted them to YouTube, and those videos caught the attention of writer/director Chad Hartigan.

Now, Little Brother Markees, 17, is considering acting as his career. He loved being on set and watching the crew work hard to produce the film.

So what started as a silly video project with his Big Brother might now be his life’s work. “I didn’t even plan on putting it out,” said Big Brother Matt, a professor of economics who also does some comedy work. “It was just going to be for us and friends, but it turned out so good.”

Movie trailer:


With the final run in San Antonio this September, the Corner Store Country Run wrapped up its third year as a major fundraising event in many markets across the country. The Country Run has been a match activity, a team-building exercise for agency staff and volunteers, and a big fundraiser for the network.


Note: The Corner Store Country Run also benefits other children’s charities; these graphics reflect only the amount raised for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Country Run 2016


To learn more visit


In between catching passes on Sundays and practicing throughout the week, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been one of many celebrities who continues to make time for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

On Giving Tuesday, Brown (number 84) took to social media to push our #BIGgift campaign and kicked off the day by donating $8,400.

Five days later, in his game against the New York Giants, Brown wore a pair of custom white and purple BBBS cleats during the NFL’s #MyCauseMyCleats weekend.

Brown has played a key role in raising awareness of the BBBS brand and enlisting the help of many others to give this holiday season.

He hasn’t been the only celebrity to jump in and help out Big Brothers Big Sisters, either.

Singer Letoya Luckett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David, and singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson also posted on their social media accounts on Giving Tuesday.

Country singer-songwriter Brad Paisley also worked with BBBSA to create a PSA. In it, he asks people to support Big Brothers Big Sisters, because he says he believes in the power of mentoring. In the video, he says, “My life was enriched by the kindness and support of a caring adult who gave me the gift of time.”

Actor Ryan Potter and NBC Nightly News anchor Kate Snow wrapped up Giving Tuesday by showing their support of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Celebrities have helped BBBS put a nice bow on a really big 2016, leading to a 2017 where we can match more Littles with caring adults who can also give the gift of time.

Big Sister Morgan and Little Sister Josie

Big Sister Morgan and Little Sister Josie

Bowl for Kids’ Sake 2017 will be revving up soon, but let us not forget 2016 and how the event was fueled by corporate partner Nerium International.

Nerium raised $400,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters through BFKS in 2015 and surpassed its goal of raising $500,000 in 2016.

With less than a month to go, Nerium has already raised over $490,000 through BFKS.

They recently awarded a check to BBBS of Kentuckiana for nearly $30,000, raised from their Louisville Brand Partners.

“What Nerium and its local Brand Partners have accomplished this year is truly exceptional,” says Jeri Swinton, CEO of BBBS Kentuckiana. “We are thankful for their generosity and look forward to continuing to work with a team of individuals who are truly dedicated to the mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

Nerium’s fundraising doesn’t stop with Bowl for Kids’ Sake.

In 2016, they have raised $1,166,316 for Big Brothers Big Sisters through Bowl for Kids’ Sake, monthly commission check donations, Lemonade for Littles, Live Happy’s International Day of Happiness, their National Conference sponsorship, and their Get Real Conference Fundraiser.

The corporate partner also continues to be a strong supporter for BBBS on social media.

BBBS looks forward another strong year with Nerium.

Michael Hartman, Chief Marketing Officer of Chuck E.  Cheese's, presents a check to Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star CEO Pierce Bush.

Michael Hartman, Chief Marketing Officer of Chuck E. Cheese's, presents a check to Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star CEO Pierce Bush.

Mentoring is not all fun and games – except when we partner with Chuck E. Cheese’s. Our relationship with one of the country’s most popular pizza arcade venues is helping children across the country, not to mention giving matches something fun to do.

During the September Pin-Up Campaign, Chuck E. Cheese’s raised $117,000, the third campaign to generate a six-figure donation. Chuck E. Cheese’s has also challenged employees at local Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants to become Bigs. Recently, Pierce Bush, CEO of BBBS Lone Star, spoke at Chuck E. Cheese’s town hall meeting to encourage more employees of Chuck E. Cheese’s corporate office to sign up to be Bigs. On December 15, more than 200 Bigs and Littles in the Dallas area attended holiday celebrations at Chuck E. Cheese’s across the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.


New York’s Statue of Liberty carries a torch of freedom, and now friends of Big Brothers Big Sisters can also carry a light through a limited-edition jewelry line from ALEX AND ANI. Liberty Copper is the limited edition collection that includes 26 pieces (costume and fine), featuring an exact replica of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, all made with original copper from the monument’s centennial restoration. Created in partnership with The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., ALEX AND ANI will encourage consumers to draw inspiration from Lady Liberty, and recognize the light they bring to the world.

ALEX AND ANI will donate 10% for all online orders, excluding CHARITY BY DESIGN© and Licensed Product, placed between September 25, 2016 and December 31, 2016 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Use ALEX AND ANI’s Light Generator to share how you #CARRYLIGHT for your Big or Little.

Beyond School Walls in BBBS of Metropolitan Detroit

Beyond School Walls in BBBS of Metropolitan Detroit

At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we know mentoring can impact the mentor as much as the mentee, and that mentoring programs can help families and communities as well. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles (BBBSLA) is launching a new program that is sure to change the lives of Bigs, Littles, and their communities. Beyond School Walls, the workplace mentoring program developed and supported by Comcast NBCUniversal, will launch in its 17th market with a new program in Los Angeles.

The new Beyond School Walls at Universal Studios Hollywood is being called “multi-generational.” The innovative mentoring model matches Universal employees with high school students, and those same high school kids mentor elementary school kids. The high-schoolers are both mentor and mentee, Big and Little. A few times per year, all three participants, the Universal Big, his or her Little, and the elementary school Little, will meet and interact together.

The one-on-one mentoring relationships give the students someone to confide in and trust, someone who gives them an extra sense of support. “This results in the students having an improved outlook on life, improved self-confidence, improved self-esteem and improved behavior and academics,” BBBSLA CEO Tiffany Siart says. “This will, in turn, help create strong 10th-grade leaders in the community who will be able to immediately impact the third-graders they will be mentoring.”

Comcast NBCUniversal’s partnership with BBBSA extends beyond support of Beyond School Walls, as their monetary and in-kind donations also help with media support, local and national Board support, and BBBSA’s National Conference.


Big Brother Joel and Little Brother Maddox

Big Brother Joel and Little Brother Maddox

Beachbody Super Trainer Joel Freeman cannot sit still. You won’t catch him lounging in front of the television. He does not play video games. When he was searching for ways to give back to his community, he decided to become a Big Brother. His enrollment specialist asked what kind of kid he wanted to mentor, and his only stipulation was that the child had to be active and curious.

“Maddox is like an 8-year-old me, very active, always ready to go, ready to do something, very inquisitive,” Big Brother Joel says.

The collaboration between Beachbody and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which netted the organization a $250,000 donation, began in October with a one-day event during which Beachbody users could stream a preview of the new Beachbody workout CORE DE FORCE. For each user who streamed the new MMA-style workout, Beachbody donated $10 to BBBSA. The event and campaign came about partly because of Big Brother Joel’s involvement as a Big Brother with BBBS of Greater Los Angeles.

Working with BBBSA seemed natural, Joel said, because the fitness world has a similar mindset to the mentoring organization. Joel first got involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters to be a positive influence in the life of a child, and he got involved with the fitness industry for a similar reason. “I liked it at as a career choice because it’s so positive,” he says. “People don’t go into a gym to get worse. It’s very positive.”

At one point after they’d been matched, Little Brother Maddox pointed out to Joel that he always seemed to be smiling. “Dude,” Joel said, “there’s no reason not to.”

Maddox is the younger of his single mom’s two children, and he thrives with individual attention. “Little boys between 8 and 12, they’re finding themselves, figuring out who they are,” Joel says. “I’m excited to be part of his life at this time.”

Big Brother Joel and Little Brother Maddox did the CORE DE FORCE workout together with other matches to promote Beachbody’s campaign in support of BBBSA, and they often find new, active things to do together. Soon, Maddox hopes to tag along with Joel to the gym for boxing workouts.

Working hard and staying active are important, but the two most important things Joel wants to impart on Maddox are positivity and respect. “I want to teach him that things may not go your way, but being an eternal optimist helps you wake up every day and keep moving in the right direction,” he says. Growing up in West Texas helped Big Brother Joel develop manners and respect, and he hopes to teach Maddox to have respect as well. “Ultimately, I want people to meet him and be like, ‘Maddox. I like him. He’s a good guy.’”

Check out some of our Bigs and Littles having fun and getting fit.

*Note: The name of Joel’s Little has been changed to protect his privacy.