Arizona Big Brothers, Big Sisters sees surge in male mentors; Waiting lists still in hundreds

PHOENIX - Since our story last month calling out for big brothers, the organization has seen a surge in volunteers.

A total of 89 signed up in the month of June. That’s more than triple the amount that showed interest in May.

In a thank you note to ABC15 , BBBSAZ spokesperson Denice Riffey wrote, “We definitely think that your story played a significant role in positively affecting these recruitment numbers and thank you for helping us to share our need.”

Ten-year-old Riley is already seeing the benefits. 

“We’ve waited over two years for a big brother.” said Tracy, Riley’s mother, who asked us not to use their last name.

“I just kept waiting and waiting. It got a little frustrating,”  said Riley.

But Curtis Ball answered the call for help and signed up to be a big brother for the second time.

“I just find it very rewarding.  It's great when you’re talking with them and you're telling them about their lives and what they want to do. You take them out and have a great time and at the end of the day they're asking you when you coming back? You got them, you know they're hooked,” said Ball.

Riley told ABC15, he became interested in getting a “Big Brother” after watching the Big Brother Big Sister online ads and could see they were having fun.

Mom agreed knowing there were just some things a mother can’t give a son, like male bonding.

“His Dad hasn't been in the picture physically very much, so he's kind of missed out on the camping, going fishing and all that guy stuff,” she said.

Already Riley and Curtis have struck a friendship.   They get a long and love doing things together.

Ball encourages more male volunteers to come forward, describing his time with Riley as rewarding.

“I don't think it's all that hard. You know introduce him to something new, this weekend we're going to go fishing, something he hasn't done before, probably go jet skiing, go to a movie, you know show him a good time,” said Ball.

“You get to do things you never got to do and it's a fun experience,”  said Riley.

“He's worked magic. Riley has just been drawn out of his shell and it's wonderful to watch,”  said Tracy

But it’s not just fun and games, Riley says now he has someone to talk to about guy issues.

 

 

According to Director of Partnership Development Jamar Jones, the organization has up to 300 boys across the Valley waiting for a male mentor and at least  10 to 20 boys a week are being turned away from its West Valley locations because of the long wait lists.

If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer, you can start the process by clicking on BBBSAZ’s website .

Here’s what you’ll need to be matched with a child in BBBSAZ’s mentor programs:

- Be at least 18 years old

- Must have lived in the area for a minimum of 3 months prior to applying to be in the program

- Commit to meeting 2-4 times per month, for at least 1 year, in our community-based program

- Have transportation, a valid AZ driver's license and provide current proof of auto insurance

- Be willing to drive up to 30 minutes to pick up your “little”

- Be able to pass a Criminal Background and Driving Motor Vehicle Check

- Pay fees associated with background checks

- Be able to participate in regular phone contacts with a BBBSAZ staff person

For more information about being a Big Brother or Big Sister, contact 602-264-9254.

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