Social distancing can be difficult for many reasons including feelings of isolation, lack of routine and not being able to visit with friends. The youth in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona’s program (BBBSAZ) are facing extreme stressors including increased anxiety, uncertainty around the health and safety of their families, and lack of access to regular school and social support networks. Having a caring adult is a key protective factor in helping youth build resiliency against these types of stresses.
Due to the pandemic, adjustments have had to be made for Bigs and Littles to meet, but fortunately with the United for the Valley Covid-19 funding, the transition to virtual meetings has been smooth and effective. With the ever changing needs of families during these difficult times, case managers have still been able to connect with families to help them find the resources they need. Now more than ever, it is vital for littles to have interactions and the mentorship of their big and fortunately, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been able to continue their mission of impacting the lives of children and families.
“With covid and restrictions in place, we have had to adjust how we do things, as have all of our matches, and our case managers have been working very hard to help big brothers and big sisters adjust to the new world.”- Laura Capello; President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona
BBBSAZ has now added a virtual component so that the matches can continue to see each other regularly. Mentors have been asked to reach out and talk, text and FaceTime with their Littles once a week to let them know someone is thinking about them. BBBSAZ encourages them to help with homework, play an online game or do a fun activity together. The most important thing is that they maintain a strong connection in a virtual space - youth need the support of their mentor now more than ever. Some Bigs are even taking it a step further by creating homemade cards to send to their Little or delivering small care packages.
Big Sister Mandi gave her Little Sister Jessica a basket of goodies to keep her entertained. Mandi has been determined to find creative solutions to connect with her Little. “I found a list of journal prompts and we are going to respond to a prompt daily. I wrote in her first page of the journal telling her to stay strong and that I am still here virtually. I also told her to make lists of things we can do once this is over,” said Mandi.
New matches are still being made too, just in the virtual space. Big Brother Rashaun recently met his new Little Brother Frank for the first time over Zoom (pictured). The need for Big Brothers and Big Sisters is still urgent for the youth of Arizona. BBBSAZ has increased its virtual information sessions: www.bbbsaz.org/volunteer and will perform interviews and match meetings virtually. For more information please contact Devin Del Palacio, Director of Community Outreach at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on grants distributed in the community, please visit www.vsuw.org/covid19grants. To learn about our organization’s first seven weeks of local response read our ‘Response Report’ available at www.vsuw.org/covidreport.