Big Brothers Big Sisters accepting mentors

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 2:57 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A long line of children, also known as littles, is waiting to be paired with mentors, otherwise known as a bigs, in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada program.

The program based out of Reno has 150 children waiting for a match, but there aren’t enough bigs in the program.

The breakdown includes about 112 boys and 38 girls who are waiting for a mentor to step forward and join the program.

Courtney Pino was paired with her little Venezia Gonzales 6.5 years ago.

“She makes me young. I feel young again and I get to go and play,” Pino said.

The two spend quality time together about two times a month.

“We’ve gone bowling, to the movies, and to coffee shops. A couple times we like to go and do some homework,” Pino said of the time she spends with Venezia.

Pino says she enjoys taking her Little to The Cheesecake Factory at Meadowood Mall for her birthday.

“I love it when they sing happy birthday to her,” Pino said.

Little moments that add up to the chances for a brighter and better future for Gonzales.

According to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America website becoming a little has a big impact.

When compared to youth not in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs, littles 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, and 33 percent less likely to hit someone.

“If you have an hour a week even less sometimes. You will really make an impact and change somebody’s life. I think I have made as much of an impact on Venezia’s life as she has made on my life,” Pino said.

To become a big you need to be at least 18-years-old, pass a background check, and pass an interview.

Once accepted you can choose from two programs. “Lunch buddies” pairs a big to eat lunch with a little at his or her school. The “community based program” paves the way for a big to take a little out into the community to spend quality time together for one-on-one interactions.

Click here if you meet the qualifications and would like to sign up.