Boys in Phoenix & West Valley are ready to be matched to Big Brothers; some may wait a year.
For the past three years, Jasani and Big Brother Brian Shanley have formed a bond that has changed their lives, and had an impact on their families and community.
Jasani, 12, who lives with his mother in Glendale and has no contact with his father, needed a male role model who could not only spend time with him but also be a positive influence in his life. In 2014, his mother enrolled him in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona program where he was matched to Brian, who lives in Peoria.
“He’s a great kid, very outgoing and inquisitive,” said Brian. “To be able to be a part of a young man’s life and to attempt to guide him in through the rough waters of adolescence is very gratifying.”
BBBSAZ Vice President of Programs Susan Wiltfong agrees.
“By being a consistent presence in a Jasani’s life, someone he can depend on to be a friend, Brian is helping him build confidence and plan his future,” said Wiltfong.
Because there are many boys like Jasani in the West Valley, Central Phoenix and South Phoenix who are waiting for mentors, Big Brothers Big Sisters has renewed its call for men in these areas to step up and volunteer.
Fewer men than women volunteer to be Bigs so the volunteer pool for Big Brothers is smaller than the demand. Some boys in the West Valley are waiting more than a year to be matched.
“These boys may be one decision away from making the wrong decision that will alter the course of their lives forever and that’s why we’d like to get them matched as soon as possible,” said Wiltfong.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona matches more than 1,500 youth each year with mentors. While the emphasis is on the one-to-one relationship, there is a ripple effect through their families, their schools and our community. Children who have mentors report stronger relationships with their parents, better attitudes toward school, and an increased desire to become active in their communities.
Volunteers are matched with a child in their area who shares their interests, and they meet two times each month over the course of a year to spend quality time together. Because of generous community partners, matches have access to tickets to sporting events, arcades and attractions, and enjoy discounts at restaurants and businesses throughout the valley. Volunteers also have opportunities to attend exclusive events and meet other Bigs who share their commitment to building a stronger community.
While BBBSAZ asks for a commitment of four hours per month for one year, most matches stay together for more than two years, and some Bigs and Littles remain close decades later.
“Honestly, it’s among the best things I’ve ever done and I think I get more out of it than he does,” said Big Brother Brian.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, hold a valid Arizona driver’s license, and plan to live in the valley for one year. The volunteer onboarding process includes an online application, interview, training, and a background check.
Those interested in becoming a volunteer can visit www.bbbsaz.org to complete an online application and register to attend an orientation training.