Big Brothers Big Sisters In Payson Enjoys Growth

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The Littles served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona range in age from 6 to 18, and through its peer mentoring program at the Payson School District, the Bigs are teens as well.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona (BBBSAZ) is one of the largest Big Brother Big Sister affiliates in the country and traces its roots back to 1955. The agency’s mission is to help children realize their potential through professionally supported one-to-one relationships with volunteers who care about them and to make sure that every child has a positive and active adult role model in their life.

This year BBBSAZ’s goal is to match 2,300 boys and girls (Littles) throughout central Arizona with positive adult mentors (Bigs).

The mission is to provide children facing adversity in Arizona with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better. The organization’s vision is that all children achieve success in life.

Mentoring works — The youth in the program are ordinary kids who just need someone who can provide stability and friendship. We strive to match these youth with mentors who can enrich their lives culturally, socially and academically.

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Courtesy photo

The Littles served by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona range in age from 6 to 18, and through its peer mentoring program at the Payson School District, the Bigs are teens as well.

About the programs — Mentors meet with their Little two to four times per month for at least one year in one of the following programs:

• Community Based Match — Spend time with a child in your own neighborhood doing things you both enjoy. Go to the park, watch a sporting event, grab a pizza, do homework — you choose the activity and days.

• Site Based Match — Spend one hour per week with your Little at a nearby elementary school. Play a board game, go on the playground, help with homework or just have lunch and talk.

• Couple/Family Match — A couple or entire family can be with a child in your own neighborhood.

Littles are children, ages 6 to 18, being mentored and Bigs are adult mentors. Independent research examining the impact on Littles has found that after months of spending time with their Bigs, Little Brothers and Little Sisters were:

• 46 percent less likely to begin using

• illegal drugs

• 27 percent less likely to begin using

• alcohol

• 52 percent less likely to skip school

• 37 percent less likely to skip a class

• More confident of their performance in

• schoolwork

• One-third less likely to hit someone

• Getting along better with their families

Independent research examining the impact on adults who were once Littles has found that having a Big Brother or Big Sister had a positive and meaningful impact on their lives:

• 49 percent cited having someone in their life that provided guidance and individual attention

• 62 percent of former Littles consider themselves to be more successful than their peers who weren’t involved in the program

• 64 percent said that their relationship with their Big was extremely important or very important

• 64 percent of Littles are still in touch with their Bigs and of these 75 percent have a close relationship with him/her

• 90 percent agree their Big made them feel better about themselves

In 2001, the agency opened its first satellite office in Payson, and has grown dramatically in the past 10 years. Since 2007, the Payson program has grown from 15 matches to 110.

During the 2010-2011 school year, the Payson mentoring program provided site-based mentoring programs to all schools within the Payson Unified School District. There were 163 boys and girls involved in the program with 85 percent of matches following a peer-mentoring format where a high school student mentored an elementary school or middle school student. Of the youth served, 60 percent came from single parent households or foster care, 68 percent lived in households with annual incomes of less than $30,000, and 66 percent were part of the free or reduced lunch program. Both the children being mentored as well as their high school mentors show improved academic performance and a greater level of community involvement.

The accomplishments that have been made in Payson are particularly impressive given that they were achieved by two part-time employees: Robert Henley and April Quinlan. This school year, BBBSAZ expects to expand the program further to serve 120 more matches. It’s a strong program that builds strong youth and a better community.

“We could not do it without you. As a matter of fact, we could not do anything without support from the community,” said Pete Griffin, president and chief executive office of BBBSAZ.

“As we approach the end of the year, we’d like to remind everyone that gifts you make to Big Brothers Big Sisters qualify for the Tax Credit for the Working Poor… up to $200 for individuals and $400 for couples filing jointly. Anyone who files an Arizona return and itemizes is eligible. This is not to be confused with school tax credits. If you’ve already made a gift to BBBS, don’t forget to take advantage of the credit. If you haven’t done so, why not now?” Griffin said.

Mail your tax credit check made out to BBBSAZ to Big Brothers Big Sisters — Payson Office, P.O. Box 2956, Payson, AZ 85547.

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