Local News

Jan 16, 2010 1:00 AM by Ariel Wesler

Big Brothers Big Sisters looking for mentors

President Obama has designated January as National Mentoring Month.

So, we decided to highlight one group that's been creating meaningful relationships along the Central Coast.

Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs adults with children in need of a mentor. The kids are between the ages of seven and seventeen. Volunteers can hang out with the kids in the community or at the Boys and Girls Club.

A lot of these kids need a friend, someone they can trust, someone they can look up to, and more importantly, someone they look forward to spending time with.

These kids are part of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, a national program that's been in Santa Barbara County for more than 20 years.

We create a mentoring relationship that creates a friendship out of that," said Yleana Velasco, the program coordinator.

Matt Dyal volunteers for about an hour a week at the Boys and Girls Club in Santa Maria with his specially matched little brother, Jose, who's 10-years old.

"I've been blessed with some really great mentors, hockey coaches, teachers throughout the years, so I would like to give back," Dyal said.

"We play, stay out of trouble, we draw, we play pool," Jose said.

They are just one of close to 70 pairs in the Santa Maria program, but coordinators say that's not nearly enough. They need more volunteers.

"We have over 40 children on our waitlist just in Santa Maria. We have over a hundred in the county," Velasco said.

"It's pretty fun. You get to come here and hang out with the kids and do whatever's going on. You can play basketball you can do fun stuff," Dyal said.

Jose wasn't shy about telling us his favorites.

"Art and baseball," he said.

Coordinators say they get to know all of their volunteers and match them with kids who have similar interests, creating a formula for success and the building blocks for lifelong friendships.

One pair in Santa Maria have been together for six years and two pairs in Santa Barbara have been together for ten years.

If you'd like more information on how you can get involved, just click here


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