Pro Soccer News: Big Brothers Big Sisters Needs Your Help
Yes, you do have time for this. Make a big difference in the life of a child and enjoy attending great sporting events at the same time...yes, the Big Brother Big Sister program might be the perfect way to make a difference for sports fans.
To help everyone understand more about how easy it can be to help, SN took a close look at participating in the Big Brother Big Sister program. Several sports organizations are stepping up to help.
San Diego Boca FC of the NPSL has formed a partnership with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County to help promote and support the organization. Founder Yan Skwara approached the Big Brothers Big Sisters as part of the team’s efforts to give back to the community. In addition to providing game tickets for the “Bigs” and “Littles” to enjoy an evening of soccer, San Diego Boca seeks to help promote and publicize the organization’s need for adults to become mentor “Bigs” – the term used for the adult volunteers in the program. Currently Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
To further the goals of the partnership, San Diego Boca hosted a group at the June 11 game against cross-town rivals SD Flash, and promoted the need for adult mentors during a halftime ceremony. Over 100 Bigs and Littles took part in the June 11 event. In addition to the support of San Diego Boca FC, Panda Express’ Panda Cares project provided food for the evening. To top it all off, San Diego Boca defeated SD Flash 3-2 in possibly the most exciting game of the year – a game that saw not one but two stoppage time goals. After the game the boys and girls and their mentors were able to go on the field to meet the players and get autographs on the special Boca shirts they had received as part of the celebration.
Many of the youngsters who came out to the game with their “Bigs” are part of the Hermandad Initiative, a mentoring program for youth in the Hispanic community. The goal of Hermandad, which means Brotherhood/Sisterhood in Spanish, is to provide Hispanic children with mentors who can help them realize their full potential. According to Program Director Amy Benson, the organization currently has over 600 boys and girls on its waiting list, with 80% of those being boys. In addition, many of the boys and the majority of the girls in the program are looking for a bilingual (Spanish-speaking) mentor. In fact, over 40% of the children served by the organization are Hispanic, and so the need for Latino and bilingual (Spanish-speaking) adult volunteers is high.
Another special program in the Big Brothers Big Sisters is the organization’s Sports Bigs, which allows Bigs and their Little partners to play sports or attend sporting events around the county. Many professional and college teams offer free or low-cost tickets to games, providing another fun activity for the children and their mentors to do twice a month. Several of the Sport Bigs pairs attended the June 11 San Diego Boca game. The program also allows pairs the chance to attend quarterly sports/health clinics put on by the Big Brothers Big Sisters and their partner sports teams and organizations.
At the heart of Big Brothers Big Sisters is the mentoring matches the organization sets up. David and Danny make up just one of these successful matches. Three years ago David learned about the Big Brothers Big Sisters program during a health and wellness fair at Ashford University, another of the organization’s partners. Growing up as the youngest in his family, David had never had the chance to experience being a “big,” and felt this was his chance to help someone who didn’t have an older sibling. He was at first hesitant about the amount of time it might entail, but when he learned that the commitment is only a few hours a month he signed up right away. “It’s not as big a commitment as people think,” he said. “A couple hours every other weekend is not hard.”
During the three years David and thirteen-year-old Little Brother Danny have been together, they have visited museums in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, and many other local attractions. They often get free or discounted tickets to these activities through the BBBS program. Their favorite activities have been the annual fishing trips and Padres games hosted by BBBS and community/corporate partners. Danny was shy when asked about his relationship with David, but did admit, “Sometimes I make him laugh.” Danny and David plan to make their next outing a fun day at the San Diego County Fair.
Becoming a Big Brother or a Big Sister is easier than most people think, and the rewards are huge. With only a few hours twice a month an adult can make a difference in the life of a boy or girl. For more information on becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, visit the organization’s website.
All Photo Credit: STEPHEN PRENDERGAST
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San Diego Boca FC is part of the Western Division of the 38-team National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). San Diego Boca FC was founded to promote professional, amateur, and youth soccer throughout San Diego County through a grassroots approach, following that of storied Argentina club Boca Juniors.