Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona recruiting in Scottsdale

Big Brother Sam and Little Brother Skyler have been matched for two years through Big Brother Big Sister of Central Arizona. (Submitted Photo)

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona is expanding its program in the east Valley and is recruiting Little Brothers and Little Sisters in Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert.

A number of volunteers in the east Valley, especially women, have answered the call to become mentors and children who live in those neighborhoods and are enrolled in the BBBSAZ community-based program no longer have to wait months to be matched, according to a press release.

“This is actually a good problem to have because it means we can have an even bigger impact in certain areas of the valley,” Susan Wiltfong, vice president of programs said in a release. “We’re working with schools, family service agencies, and community partners to reach out to parents and let them know that we are enrolling children ages 6 to 15 who live in the east Valley.”

Children (Littles) enrolled in the community-based program meet at least two times per month with their mentors (Bigs) and spend time doing activities they both enjoy, a release states.

The main goal is the child has a consistent, positive adult role model to help them build confidence and explore interests, according to a release.

The family and volunteer are asked to commit to one year, yet the average match length is more than two years. Some matches last until the child turns 18 while some Bigs and Littles maintain friendships that continue for many years.

Children enrolled in BBBSAZ programs come from different backgrounds and have varied experiences, but the one thing they have in common is they want to have a mentor.

“That’s the most important question we ask because if the child doesn’t want to be in the program, the match will not be successful and will close,” Ms. Wiltfong said in a release.

As part of the enrollment process, the parent provides information about the child’s interests and approves the selection of the Big Brother or Big Sister.

Once the match starts, BBBSAZ case workers maintain ongoing contact with the parent, the child and the volunteer to ensure the relationship between the child and volunteer is growing and the parent is seeing positive progress with regard to the child’s academic performance, behavior, confidence and outlook.

“Skyler has not only gained a Big Brother, but he has gained a lifelong friend, a mentor, and a man who he can rely on and trust to be there for him,” Kelly, whose 10-year-old son Skyler has been matched to Sam for two years, said in a release.

She credits Sam with helping Skyler build self-confidence, enabling him to overcome anxiety and excel in school.

All volunteers go through an extensive, multi-layered screening process that includes an application, interview, background check and reference check. They are matched with a child based on location and mutual interests.

Parents often comment the care and attention that goes into making sure the Big and Little are a good match has a direct impact on the longevity and success of the match.

“Jack and his Big Brother are two peas in a pod,” Amanda, who recently enrolled nine-year-old Jack in the BBBSAZ program after the death of his father, said in a release. “They have the same sense of humor, they like video games, and they both have red hair.”

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