There are Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies all across the nation that match Bigs to Littles, including one in St. George.
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission, according to its website, is to “provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”
“Our children are between the ages of 6 and 17,” said Teri Iverson, Big Brothers Big Sisters Southern Utah coordinator. “I’d say the majority of kids in our program, when they’re matched, are between the age of 6 and 12. They can stay matched until they’re 18 or they graduate high school, whichever comes last.”
The Littles need Bigs for a range of reasons: from helping them with homework to understanding situations, depending on the child.
“The Littles usually need just an extra friend in their lives,” Iverson said.
They need someone who can commit to at least one year to them, among other requirements.
According to Kariann Atkins, Big Brothers Big Sisters match support specialist and events coordinator, a Big must provide several references, pass a background check and be at least 18.
“Truly we are looking for individuals that want to make a difference and have some time to devote to a child,” Atkins said.
Shaun Russon, a junior integrated studies major from Fairview, said he had a desire to give back to the community.
“There was some itch inside of me that wanted to give back to the community, so I sought out this program and finally jumped aboard,” Russon said. “I made the commitment and wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Patrisha Hammons, a junior education major from Sacramento, Calif., said she had a Big Sister when she was growing up in a foster home, which resulted in having to change schools often.
“I wanted to do the same thing for somebody because it helped me a lot,” Hammons said. “My Big Sister was the one stable thing I had.”
Bigs and Littles meet on average two to four times a month. They do activities based on their mutual interests such as going to a ball game, hiking a local trail, making pottery or doing makeovers.
Taylor Alisa, a sophomore psychology major from St. George, said she enjoys going to get frozen yogurt and bowling with her Little Sister.
“It’s been a great experience,” Alisa said. “I’ve learned a lot, and even about myself. I’ve learned that [volunteering for BBBS] is an act of selfless service. That has helped me realize that it’s not a big effort when you’re helping someone else.”
Stephanie Fossand, a senior psychology major from Kimball, Neb., loves painting with her Little Sister and going to Jumping Jack’s.
“I would absolutely recommend volunteering at [BBBS],” Fossand said. “It’s definitely been very rewarding for me. It teaches you to find time to invest in someone else, especially when that person deals with a lot of different things. The biggest thing is investing in someone else’s future.”
Representatives of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of St. George said they wish there were more students involved in the program.
“I would recommend this a thousand times over,” Russon said. “I can’t stress this enough. I wish there was more involvement on campus.”
Big Brothers and Big Sisters alike describe their time with their Little Brothers and Little Sisters as meaningful and fun filled.
“I feel like being a Big Sister allows me to connect with a child, help them through their journey and be that positive role model for them all while having the most fun ever,” said Tracie Connors, a senior psychology major from West Jordan. “Seeing their eyes light up when they see you is really personally rewarding. You get to be that one stable person in their life, which is awesome.”
The next activity is Big Brothers Big Sisters’ largest fundraiser: Bowl for Kids’ Sake on March 23. It costs $500 for a five-member team to bowl, have lunch and be entered in a drawing.
Big Brothers Big Sisters also appreciate those who raise or personally donate money. All donations can be brought to their offices at 285 W. Tabernacle Street Suite 103.
For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters in southern Utah, you can stop by their offices or call at (435) 986-9776.