There are children right here in Idaho who are facing immense adversity and who could truly benefit from having a sincere friend. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nonprofit organization built to provide that support children need by offering strong one-to-one relationships. They match a child, called a “Little”, with a volunteer adult, termed a “Big”. Acting as a positive role model, the Big commits to three activities per month with their Little with the purpose of becoming friends and to introduce new opportunities. Judy DeRoche, Executive Director of the southeast Idaho agency says, “What I love most is the fact that we help make a difference in the lives of children.”
Taylor Rasmussen has been a Big for two years and has been paired with three Littles during that time. “The kids involved in this program don’t have a lot of opportunities to do a variety of things - their families just don’t have the means.” Taylor has taken his Little to do activities they can both enjoy, such as fishing, playing sports at a park, swimming, visiting the aquarium and museums, and going rock climbing. “One of my Littles struggled to connect with people and needed a friend to count on. Another enjoyed doing ‘guy things’ because he had a single mother. Each kid is somewhere different emotionally.”
Case manager Olivia Lovejoy shares, “I’ve seen in multiple kids an increase in self-esteem and an improvement in communication skills.” This program is special because the Big is someone outside of the home or family environment these boys and girls can trust. Often, these friendships outlast childhood and open the door to new avenues of opportunity.
One Little was struggling in high school with grades and friends and just didn’t have any direction. “His Big Brother started working with him to realize how important school was and helped him discover his strengths and what possible career options he had. The Little then went on to college and has recently worked on some high-profile political campaigns,” Olivia explains. “We have a current match that has been together for 10 years. It’s been a great experience both for the Big and Little. They have a strong relationship because the Big Brother has seen the Little Brother grow up! Also, we had a Little Brother be best man in his Big Brother’s wedding.”
“I’d like people in Idaho Falls to know that there is tons of need right here in our community for positive role models – especially for boys. If you’re a man with ambition to do good in the community and help kids, you can find a place at Big Brothers Big Sisters as there are lots of kids around here who need that positive influence. It’s very fulfilling being a big brother,” remarks Taylor.♦