Big Brothers Big Sisters held an all-day event at the city recreation center last weekend in hopes of recruiting and matching volunteers to explore new horizons with children looking for positive influences in their lives.
Maggie Romigh, San Miguel County community coordinator, said, “The main thing we need right now is Big Brothers. This afternoon, we’ve got 15 little boys on our waiting list waiting for Big Brothers. This morning, we had 18 kids on the waiting list this afternoon. We’ve already made three matches today.”
Volunteers are called “bigs” and are adults of all ages, from all walks of life, who enjoy sharing everyday activities with their “littles,” exploring new horizons and finding magic in the simplest moments.
Parent Rita Raya said her son is interested in finding a Big Brother, so he can meet new people and be involved in doing fun stuff. She said she feels secure in knowing he will be safe because of the program’s rigid background checks.
New resource board member Vince Howell said the process includes asking parents and children about their interests.
“We also have an extensive interview with those who want to become volunteers, followed by an extensive background check; that’s the reason why parents like Rita feel safe.”
Felix Alderette, chief program officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of northern New Mexico, said he is developing programs for some of the 11 counties in the north that the program is not currently active in.
Alderette said 688 kids were served last year, “but we estimate that there’s about 2,000 that would benefit from having a Big Brother or Big Sister. We stay in contact with families that have a child that is on the waiting list. Today, we invited those kids to come out to spend some time with us, even though they don’t have a Big Brother or Big Sister. We also invited potential volunteers to come out to see the need.”
Alderette said the organization has two programs, one being the school-based program, which is a structured program within the schools.
The community program brings a child and a caring adult together to spend time as they choose, with the parent’s consent — that could be going to the library, going to lunch, playing video games or just talking. He said volunteers spend about four hours a month with the child.
“The truth be known once that the relationship starts, they want to spend more time than the four hours,” Alderette said.
Romigh said while the program is doing well in San Miguel County, they are hoping to have some matches in the Mora area by the beginning of the school year.
“We’re starting with the school-based program there and already have a few people who have signed up for the fall.”
Alderette said a resource board has been set up in Las Vegas.