Social distancing can be difficult for many reasons including feelings of isolation, a 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.
BBBSAZ has now added a virtual component so that the Big and Little “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 as 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 Maricopa county. 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 [email protected].