ARIZONA NEWS

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona needs more volunteers to help Valley kids

Apr 16, 2024, 4:15 AM | Updated: 3:02 pm

More volunteers are needed to help Valley kids network and build confidence. (Big Brothers Big Sist...

More volunteers are needed to help Valley kids network and build confidence. (Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona photos/via Facebook)

(Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona photos/via Facebook)

PHOENIX — The Valley chapter of a countrywide community organization needs more adult volunteers to step up and help kids in Maricopa County.

To attract more male mentors, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona — or BBBSAZ for short — is launching a recruitment campaign, according to an announcement from last week.

The Big Draft campaign takes inspiration from the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative. Essentially, BBBSAZ wants to draft the next class of mentors just like how the NFL drafts its future players.

The need for more mentors, or “bigs,” as the nonprofit calls them, is urgent. There is currently a waiting list of 200 kids who are looking for mentors.

Some boys and girls on the waitlist have to wait up to three years to find a mentor.

CEO Laura Capello said the nonprofit offers rewarding experiences for both adults and their mentees.

“Children face tremendous challenges, but through effective, long-term mentoring, BBBSAZ can help make a positive and measurable difference in their lives,” Capello said in a press release.

To encourage more adults — especially men of color — to sign up, BBBAZ will throw an NFL Draft Watch Party with food donated by The Habit Burger Grill on April 25 at 5 p.m.

There will also be games and drinks so community members can learn about the nonprofit in a relaxed environment.

What does the nonprofit do to help Valley kids?

“We match kids that just need somebody in their lives to maybe, you know, talk things over with, support them and just really be a friend to them,” Capello told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Male volunteers are especially needed, she added.

“We’ve always, always needed volunteers, and mostly men, because the majority of the kids that sign up to be littles — we call our mentees ‘littles’ — are boys,” Capello said. “Our biggest need for men is in the West Valley.”

BBBSAZ covers all of Maricopa County, as well as parts of Gila County, she added.

The organization’s mission is to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships between bigs and littles. The nonprofit’s website said these relationships can increase a child’s self-confidence and attention to schoolwork.

Mentors and kids are matched based on common interests. Becoming a kid’s mentor can also decrease his or her chances of skipping school, using illegal drugs or drinking, the nonprofit said.

What qualities does the nonprofit look for in adult volunteers?

“The biggest quality that we’re looking for is someone who just has the time and the desire to just be a friend to someone who needs it,” Capello said. “We’re just trying to really guide them and kind of show them what’s already inside of them.”

Mentors and mentees can go on trips to libraries, amusement parks, restaurants or sports games. Capello said she and her little have been friends since her little was 11. She’s 21 now.

“We’re not trying to fix anybody,” she said. “The biggest thing … is opening up new doors maybe to experiences that they’d never had a chance to experience before.”

Adults who want to step up and become a mentor can apply online.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Heidi Hommel contributed to this report.

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona needs more volunteers to help Valley kids