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Month: September 2015

What is #GivingTuesday?

As the holiday season quickly approaches, many people begin to slow down and think about what they are grateful for. For us, it is the unwavering support of the Tucson community that makes our program possible and ultimately changes the lives of hundreds of our children each year.

In this spirit, Big Brothers Big Sisters would like to spotlight Giving Tuesday, a relatively new movement founded in response to what some would consider to be the excessive commercialization and consumerism of the holiday season.

With the advent of Black Friday and its digital counterpart, Cyber Monday, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas has morphed into what can feel like a never-ending shopping spree. In response to this, the 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (YM-YWHA) and the United Nations Foundation developed the idea of Giving Tuesday as a national day of giving following the biggest sales of the year.

In the words of the organizers, “#GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities, and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving”. Since its inception in 2012, Giving Tuesday has garnered remarkable support and achieved its vision, becoming a global movement with over 30,000 organizations engaged worldwide.

This year, you too can take advantage in Giving Tuesday by donating to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson on December 1st, 2015. Any and all contributions make a huge difference in the lives of countless boys and girls in the Tucson community. We are very thankful to be serving this community and are proud of the support and generosity Tucson gives us every day.

If you are interested in donating to Big Brothers Big Sisters Tucson at any time, please visit our website here.

Meet Our Matches: Kohl and Francisco

Kohl and Fransisco SQ

Program Coordinator Kohl supports BBBS matches for a living, but even he was a little nervous Adding a Little! After their first outing, however, Kohl and Francisco became great pals, and he describes the time they spend together as some of the most fun he’s ever had in his life. Thanks to Kohl’s influence, Francisco now wants to give back and become a Big himself in the future!

KOHL:

Why did you decide to become a Big Brother?

As a program coordinator, I saw how much fun it is, and I wanted to establish a relationship with a young person and be a mentor.

Were you nervous about Adding a Little to your life? How were your hesitations alleviated?

Oh yeah. I had a whole bunch of fears. Is he going to like me? Will he have fun? After our first outing, all of that was gone.

What is your favorite thing to do together? How do you Add a Little excitement to your day with your Little?

We like to go to Colossal Cave and Mount Lemmon! One of my favorite outings was going to his first football game recently, and they won!

Share a favorite memory or experience from your match.

We were up on Mount Lemmon and there was a storm moving in. We thought we could get a short hike in, or maybe take the ski lift up and check out the view. But the storm rolled in and it actually hailed on us. He loved it! He had never seen hail before. And during the storm, we got to talk and I learned more about him.

How would you describe your relationship with your little?

It’s about having fun while getting into a deeper friendship. We just have a really good time together.

What do you think your Little Brother has learned from you?

I would like to think my Little Brother has learned how to be an adult, and hopefully given him a person who he can come to with his problems, dreams, goals, and whatnot, and talk them out.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a Big, but isn’t quite sure it’s for them?

I was nervous at the very beginning, but hanging out with my Little Brother is some of the most fun I have had in my entire life. It has been an awesome time.

How has becoming a Big Brother impacted you?

My Little Brother has restored my faith in the future. He has given me new hope and he blows my mind every time we have a conversation.

FRANCISCO:

If you could describe your Big Brother in one word, what would it be?

Compatible! We have similar interests and other stuff, like hiking on Mount Lemmon, playing laser tag, and going bowling.

What has your Big Brother taught you?

He’s taught me a lot about football and being a good sport.

Would you recommend getting a Big Brother to other kids in Tucson? Why?

Yeah, it seems dumb at first, but it’s so much fun when you get to know them. I’m going to volunteer when I get done with college (I want to go to Oxford) because it’s good for the volunteer too. Like Kohl, I want to be a role model for another kid.

Learn more about Adding a Little to your life here!

Meet our Matches: Elliot and Mike

Elliot and Mike SQ

Thousands of miles couldn’t separate these two for good! After being matched for a year, Elliot went abroad to study ecology, but their bond remained strong. When he returned to Tucson, they picked up where they left off, and have been matched for a total of three years now. Elliot loves being a Big, and Mike’s mother has expressed how grateful she is for the hope their relationship has given her son. One of their favorite outings in ultimate Frisbee, which you can see in action in our Add a Little videos! Watch their campaign video here!

ELLIOT:

Share a favorite memory or experience from your match.
Last summer, Mike and I went to Breakers Water Park with his Mom. We had a great time that afternoon riding slide after slide and relaxing in the wave pool. Mike’s enthusiasm never drooped, even in the 100+ degree heat. I was happy to have his mother join us, and it was obvious that Mike was pleased to have her come along, too. Many teenagers push away from their parents and other mentors in their life, and I think Mike is very mature to value these relationships in his own life.

How has becoming a Big Brother impacted you?

Becoming a Big Brother has been a constant source of enjoyment and has also provided me with numerous opportunities for reflection. Mike and I always have a great time hanging out together, but we do discuss more serious topics from time to time. After meeting up, I try to think about any problems Mike brought up and how we could both play a role in addressing them. It could involve me asking him some guided questions to help direct his line of thinking, or me simply saying that I think something is important. Regardless of the specific strategy that I use, being a Big Brother positively challenges me to grow as a friend and a mentor.

What do you think your Little Brother has learned from you?

Mike has told me he noticed that I tend to have an optimistic perspective and that I rarely complain about situations. I’m glad that he has picked up on this trait because it has served me well. A strong sense of optimism and perseverance can help you get through some of the many difficult situations that come about while growing up.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a Big, but isn’t quite sure it’s for them?

I would discuss the value of building a long-term relationship with your Little Brother/Sister and how that relationship is something that benefits the both of you. I learn things from Mike all the time and value his friendship immensely. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this program.

MIKE:

If you could describe your Big Brother in one word, what would it be?

Nice person, interesting, always doing something, fun, and interesting!

What has your Big Brother taught you?

He’s taught me lots of things over the years. He went on a trip across the world, and is always going to lots of different places, and comes and tells me about them. He also taught me about rocks, and I now I want to be a geologist. And I taught Elliot how to do a front flip on the trampoline!

Would you recommend getting a Big Brother to other kids in Tucson? Why?

Yeah! It’s nice to have someone to talk to and get away with. I couldn’t wish for a better Big Brother.

CORINNE (MIKE’S MOTHER):

Why did you enroll Mike?

Mike’s father left when he was only six months old. He had no male role models, and I thought it would be good to meet someone who chose to do this, to make a conscious choice to open up and be with a child.

Big Brothers Big Sisters bought two people together that would have never crossed paths otherwise. Over time, they became more than what they were without each other.

Describe Elliot and Mike’s relationship.

Their relationship began when Elliot was around eighteen or nineteen years old, so I’ve been able to see both of them grow up. Mike survived fifteen months when Elliot was overseas, but he missed his Big Brother. They value their relationship, and they will be friends for the rest of their lives.

How do you think having a Big Brother has impacted Mike?

Elliot has opened Mike up to new possibilities. As an individual, Mike is now able to express himself more, now. Their match gives Mike a guy to talk to, it’s tough being raised in a family of girls! I’m so grateful for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Meet our Matches: Dillon and Zeke

Dillon and Ezekiel SQ

Often staying active on their match outings, Dillon and Zeke felt right at home on the basketball court for our video shoot! The pair, who have been matched for almost a year, love to play sports, see animals, and do fun science experiments. Whether it is bowling or visiting Biosphere 2, Dillon and Zeke always have a great time, all while learning valuable lessons along the way. Watch their campaign video here!

DILLON:

Do you have any particular activities you enjoy sharing during your outings?
There are a lot of different things! We like to be active and play a lot of sports, like shooting hoops, playing catch with the football, mini-golf, and bowling. We also have fun doing science activities and visiting animals at the Reid Park Zoo and Desert Museum.

Share a favorite memory or experience from your match.
My favorite memory with my Little was going to Biosphere 2. When we get together we like to be silly, so we had fun meeting, naming, and dissecting a squid in order to learn more about the animal. We also loved conducting experiments and receiving a “behind-the-scenes” tour of the facility.

What do you think your Little Brother has learned from you?
I think one of the things that my Little Brother is learning from me is quite simple, and that “it is nice to be nice”. Whether it is offering the front seat of the car to a guest, holding the door open for someone, or writing a thank-you note. These actions don’t take a lot of time, but are simply nice to do.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a Big, but isn’t quite sure it’s for them?
Do your research and ask questions! There are so many different volunteer opportunities available and it is important that the organization you partner with has a mission that aligns with your own. When you are successful in aligning these two, the experience becomes more fun and impactful.

One of the aspects that I love about Big Brothers Big Sisters Tucson is that they make it easy to be a Big. Often a big concern I hear is “What will I do with my little?” BBBS does a great job of providing monthly events where all you need to do is show up and have fun. Also, many places around town offer discounts for BBBS matches.

As a mentor, while you have a one-on-one relationship with your Little, you are not alone. Your program coordinator is a major resource, and so are the countless number of other Bigs that participate in the program.

Lastly, like any new endeavor, it is often easier to do it with someone else. So take the first step with a friend and attend an orientation session together.

How has becoming a Big Brother impacted you?
I could not be more satisfied with my decision to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a mentor. In a short period of time, I have been provided the opportunity to build a strong relationship with a child in the Tucson community. Being a mentor has encouraged introspection, and has ultimately led to positive changes in my life.

ZEKE:

If you could describe your Big Brother in one word what would it be?
Awesome!

Would you recommend getting a Big Brother to other kids in Tucson? Why?
Yes, it’s fun! And the person will have a lot of fun with you.

What has your Big Brother taught you?
Dillon taught me to be a better person. I used to talk back to my Mom and now I don’t, because we talked about it.

Meet our Matches: Eric and Flavio

Eric & Flavio SQ

Matched over two years ago, Eric and Flavio have been a fantastic duo ever since. These two like to stay active on their outings, where they often hike, swim, or play pinball. Through one another, they have learned new things and expanded their horizons, all while having a good time. Watch their campaign video here!

ERIC:

Do you guys have any particular activities that you enjoy sharing on your outings?

There are a lot of things we do, but we especially like to go hiking, swimming, and play pinball at the place off of 4th Avenue. One of our favorite activities is a really simple pleasure, and that’s tossing a tennis ball back and forth in the deep end of the Racquet Club pool. He’s willing and able to do it for hours!

Share a favorite memory or experience from your match.
One of my fondest and clearest memories is hiking the length of the Butterfly Trail on Mount Lemmon this spring. It’s a long and demanding hike. While many of the other kids, and even some adults, were tiring out, Flavio forged ahead, never once complaining, and thoroughly enjoying himself!

How has becoming a Big Brother impacted you?

Being a Big has widened my horizons by introducing me to sides of Tucson I have never seen first-hand. It has also been so much fun to spend time doing things with Flavio that my two grown daughters wouldn’t necessarily appreciate.

What do you think your Little Brother has learned from you?

This is easier to answer. Through our friendship, I think Flavio has learned about future possibilities he might not have otherwise considered.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming a Big, but isn’t quite sure it’s for them?

Don’t be intimidated by either the time commitment or any pressure to come up with a fabulous activity every other week. Once the bond between you and your Little starts to gel, you’ll find that the mere fact that you show up when you say you will, and that you are not just another authority figure in his or her life, to be enough, and spending a few hours together will be easy.

Learn more about Adding a Little to your life here!