Jeremy Renner helps unveil new van for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada

Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 8:18 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A night of celebration in Downtown Reno as actor Jeremy Renner helped premiere his new Disney+ show and a special van built just for our local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

It’s been a project years in the making, and has the potential to change many young lives. For Renner, it was a passion project and choosing Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada to benefit was easy.

“I love what they do,” he said. “I love to see all those relationships flourish and grow.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada (BBBSNN) pairs mentors with young adults who may not have the best influences in their lives. And now the organization has a special mobile rec van filled with various activities for kids. It was rebuilt as part of Renner’s new show, ‘Rennervations”.

Here’s the premise, Renner takes decommissioned vehicles he has purchased, and gives them a new purpose to serve various communities and groups. It was an idea inspired by his best friend and producer on the show, Rory Millikin.

“He was buying vehicles at an alarming rate,” Millikin said. “It started with like one of these fire trucks that you see behind you, and then it’s two and four. And then you crossing the 20 mark. 215 later, I just said ‘Look dude, you got to do something.”'

Thus, Rennervations was born. It’s a show all about second chances- for the vehicles, those who benefit, and the man who helped make it all happen.

“I give a s***,” Renner said. “I really do. I really, really give a big ‘ol s***.

And Northern Nevada was lucky enough to benefit. Because Renner has a soft spot in his heart for kids, when he learned about the mission of BBBSNN, he knew they were a perfect fit. So what did the organization need?

“They said it was up to our imagination,” Derek Beauvais, CEO of BBBSNN, said. “It was kind of like the sky was the limit on what we were doing, and it was kind of one of those dream scenarios of what is it that we need, what resources are missing in the community.”

What was missing was a mobile resource to help bring the non-profit to more rural areas.

“We typically serve Reno, Sparks, and Carson City,” Beauvais said. “But we’ve seen, as the economic climate has changed in Northern Nevada, that our families can’t necessarily afford to live in those areas. And so we’re seeing a lot of our families living in rural communities. And this allows us to bring our program to them.”

The van has a basketball hoop, soccer net, art space, computers, games and more. It also has cooking tops, courtesy of Renown. Beauvais says the van is the perfect way to bring services to surrounding areas.

“So not all rural communities, but it also allows us to reach neighborhoods that maybe don’t have safe or green space outside for kids. We can bring our activity center to them. And run our programs in their neighborhoods.”

It may be his name on the show, but Renner says this is really about the kids. As part of the filming process, he spent time with the kids in the program, both in group settings and individually.

“They got these once in a lifetime opportunities to hang out with a real life superhero,” Beauvais said. “So, you know, they got to meet Hawkeye. They also got to meet Captain America. Anthony Mackie came out with the delivery of the vehicle. So just a cool opportunity for them to meet people that they look up to, but also to see that they care about their community.”

“The whole point you get people inspired to do something,” Renner said. “It doesn’t require very much time and effort to make a giant change in your own life, as well as with somebody else. It’s win win win all the way around here.”

The kids themselves were so inspiring, that some of the crew helping with the rebuild took their actions even further,

“We’ve got our crew members, while we’re filming this show, become Big Brothers, Big Sisters, it’s good and they’ll change their lives,” Renner said. “The bigs are getting a lot out of this just like the littles do and it’s a very, very valuable, valuable program.”

For Renner, doing good in the community is something that is a key part of who he is. And that was inspired, in large part, by his mom.

“My mom has always been a doer, not a sayer,” he said. “Words are pretty invaluable if you don’t back it up with action. So that’s what my mom has taught me.”

And Renner’s actions speak loudly.

The hope is this show, and the mobile rec van, will also help attract more volunteers.

“There are kids waiting on our waitlist, always,” Beauvais said. “And so we always need more volunteers and hopefully this show and this vehicle will inspire people to get involved.”

“Basically, the whole idea is to inspire people to look around your neighborhood,” Millikin said. “Thousand of organizations like these that you can participate in and make a difference. Then what a win that is, you know”

You can learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada here. Their episode one ‘Rennervations’ is now airing on Disney+