• • • • •

Student to Student: My Experience As A “Big Sister” by Jessica Curley

About a month ago, I started volunteering at a local elementary school with a grouped called Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a program in communities across the country that helps children who experience adversity realize their potential by being matched with volunteers to create a supported one-on-one relationship.

The first time I heard about the program that works with kids ages 6 to 18 was when I was searching online for volunteer opportunities.

Being a part of the National Honor Society at Park City High School, I must complete hours of volunteer work for our community.

I get along with kids and enjoy teaching, so I decided to interview for Big Brothers Big Sisters. As soon as I matched with my “little,” or mentee, I couldn’t wait to start.

My experience as a mentor has been nothing but fun so far. My 8-year-old “little sister” is full of enthusiasm and spirit, and I couldn’t be happier to be her “big sister.”

Growing up, I always wished for a little sister because I wanted to be someone who was considered a role model. That feeling of someone looking up to you and knowing that you’re making a difference in that person’s life was what I wanted to experience.

That opportunity remained a dream until I started volunteering. I didn’t know it would happen when I started, but after a few weeks, the relationship I developed with my mentee is very strong, like a sister bond. She looks up to me like I’m her actual big sister. The fact that I’m changing her life for the better is the best feeling.

The program takes place one hour each week at the elementary schools those enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters attend. During that hour, mentors help the kids with their homework, and then spend the remaining time playing games.

I feel over the course of five weeks I already have a relationship with the little girl I see once a week. I can see a lot of personality shining through her, and I think that’s the reason we get along so well.

I know this program is designed to help and inspire children in need, but I can honestly say I’ve been inspired as well. My companion is constantly teaching me new things, and I cherish every moment we spend together. Also, I enjoy seeing how she has progressed over the weeks when it comes to school work, which makes me feel I’m helping her succeed one problem at a time.

Lacey Cole-Rae, the group’s manager for Summit and Wasatch Counties, said mentoring benefits children.

“Kids with mentors have better attitudes toward school and education,” she said. “They are less likely to engage in risky behavior, and they have better relationships with their peers and families.”

This organization is very inspiring to everyone that is part of it. The relationship between the big sisters and little sisters is very special and unique with each pair.

I want all the littles out there, especially my own, to know they can achieve anything they put their mind to.

I hope that more people join this program because the impact it has is tremendous. People don’t realize the benefit a caring and consistent mentor can have in a child’s life. Also, the mentor is rewarded with the feeling of satisfaction, knowing they’ve changed a child’s life for the better.

Click here to view the article on The Park Record’s website!

2017 National Mentoring Month


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is hoping to ring in the new-year during National Mentoring Month with a powerful bang by raising awareness of the life-changing benefits of one-to- one mentoring and recruiting Big Brother and Sister volunteers. Mentoring relationships have proven to strengthen a child’s ability to thrive educationally and to make positive choices.

BBBSU has 335 children waiting for a mentor today, and we want to raise awareness of the need for mentors in our community during National Mentoring Month. This year we hope to find mentors for 525 children statewide. In total, our goal is to support mentoring for 1,320 children in 2017. About 800 of these matches are ongoing. Our biggest need is recruiting volunteers. “The gift of a mentor is something many of us take for granted,” said Nancy Basinger, president and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. “A mentor’s valuable guidance, support and belief in that child reduces risky behaviors in children while increasing their academic achievement, and improving relationships and self-confidence making future success more likely, research has shown.”

To sign up to be a volunteer or to donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, please visit

President Obama, Governor Gary Herbert, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Park City Mayor Jack Thomas, and St. George Major Jon Pike have all designated January as Mentoring Month. Created in 2002 by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for young people. Since 1978 BBBSU has passionately pursued its mission to provide Utah children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally-supported one-to- one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

On January 17, 2017 and January 24, 2017, Popeyes® stores in, Herriman, Midvale, and West Valley will donate 15% of all sales to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. The promotion will take place from 5 – 8 p.m. BBBSU personnel will be in store to talk about the non-profit’s mission, and to answer any customer questions. In addition, the retail outlets will provide BBBSU signage and counter jars to collect donations.

Additional National Mentoring Month activities include:

  • Public Service Announcements on iHeart Media and Comcast to relay the importance of mentoring and to recruit much-needed Big Brother & Big Sister volunteers.
  • Utah Jazz/Big Brothers Big Sisters Night – Gordan Hayward to sponsor 30 mentoring pairs to attend the BIG game against the Cavaliers.
  • Utah Grizzlies/Big Brothers Big Sisters Night where a “Big” and “Little” will drop the puck at the beginning of the game, 30 matches of “Bigs” and “Littles” will form a human tunnel for the hockey players to enter the ice arena, and two “Littles” will get to ride the Zamboni during the game break.
  • U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association will host 10 matches at a ski and snowboard racing competition at Solitude.
  • Walk in Their Shoes Campaign Throughout the last two weeks in January, follow our social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see your favorite local politicians and sports figures wearing bowling shoes to bring attention for the need for mentors to “walk in the shoes” of a child in our community who is waiting for a mentor. Throughout the month our Big Brothers and Big Sisters who are current mentors will also post about what they have learned from the child they mentor. Big Brothers Big Sisters is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network. In Utah, BBBSU serves Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Summit, Utah, Washington, Wasatch and Weber counties, partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community to carefully pair children (“Littles”) with screened volunteer mentors (“Bigs”). The mission of these relationships is to achieve measurable outcomes for children in three areas: avoidance of risky behaviors, educational success, and emotional intelligence. To learn more about BBBSU or to become a volunteer or mentor, please visit

BBBSU’s programs include:

  • Community-Based Mentoring: Mentors and children ages 6-18 years meet 2-4 times per month for a minimum of one year. Activities are based on individual interests and can be anything from going to the park, library or a baseball game.
  • Site-Based Mentoring: Mentors and children at a designated location, usually a school, (either at lunch or after school) meet for one hour each week while school is in session, and on and off throughout the summer. Activities include homework, board games and four square!
  • Mentor 2.0: A new technological way of approaching one-to- one mentoring, Mentor 2.0 gives high-school students the tools and support they need to graduate from High School and succeed in College.

Founded in 1972 in New Orleans, Popeyes® is a leader in the New Orleans segment of the foodservice industry and is the world's second largest quick-service chicken concept based on the number of units. As of October 4, 2015, Popeyes® had 2,475 operating restaurants in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands and 27 foreign countries. For more information, visit the Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen website at

7 Habits of Highly Effective Mentors

baseballgame_2Listening. Listening is the only way mentors can understand what people are up against and where opportunities for developing the relationship can be discovered.

Building a relationship. In the hurry to make a difference, mentors can forget to take time to build a relationship and establish a firm connection. This means carefully cultivating trust. It means being patient. Many people will test mentors to see if they are for real.

Respecting boundaries. When mentors ask people personal questions before a solid relationship has been established, the most common response if silence. People will clam up. Mentors who do not respect their mentees’ needs for privacy are often quick to alienate them.

Being sensitive to differences. It is necessary to realize that mentors and those they work with come from different worlds, a reality even for mentors who may have grown up disadvantaged. On one level, this means being aware of the embarrassment a person might feel about being poor. As one young man said about his mentor, “I rarely let him come to my house, even now, because it’s not the house that I want, it’s not the house that I would have if l was in charge of it.”

Providing support and challenges. Successful mentors are consistently there for people, delivering a sustained message: “You are important.” When problems arise, effective mentors resist telling people what to do and instead work with them to address the problems. These mentors are eventually able to strike a constructive balance between supporting and challenging – both nurturing people and pushing them toward their goals.

Acknowledging reciprocity. While mentors often have to provide the initiative early in the relationship as trust is being established and the relationship built, mentoring is a two-way street. Growth, benefits and struggles are present on both sides, and mentors who are able to convey that they are there for mutual exchange – not just to solve problems – stand the greatest chance of making a solid connection.

Being realistic. Few mentors turn lives around, but mentors who help people move toward achieving goals can make a real contribution. Often this means having thick skin – tolerating unreturned phone calls, accepting the vicissitudes of youth, recognizing the social and cultural gaps that must be bridged. In the end, few virtues in mentoring rival ongoing commitment and genuine caring.

Marc Freedman is a long-time advocate and researcher of mentors. For more information see Adapted from his book The Kindness of Strangers: Adult Mentors; Urban Youth and the New Volunteerism (Cambridge University Press; 1999)


Sparking a Fourth Grader’s Imagination
by Oprah Winfrey

“One of the defining moments of my life came in the fourth grade, the year I was Mrs. Duncan’s student. What Mrs. Duncan did for me was to help me not to be afraid of being smart. She encouraged me to read, and she often stayed after school to work with me, helping me choose the books and letting me help her grade papers. For many years after that, I had one goal; that I would one day become a fourth-grade teacher who would win the teacher award – because I was going to be the best teacher anyone had ever seen.”

Excerpted from the web site:, which features interviews of many celebrities paying tribute to their mentors.

Support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah by eating at ANY Buffalo Wild Wings!


Through August 15th, Big Brother Big Sisters of Utah is partnering with Buffalo Wild Wings to help promote our 60 men 60 Days campaign! With your help, we are hoping to generate funds to help us recruit more men as volunteer Big Brothers. We currently have 300+ Little Brothers on our waiting list that are anxiously awaiting a Big to make a difference in their life!

Learn more about 60 Men 60 Days!

Supporting our cause is easy!

Step 1: Bring your Home Team Advantage Teammate Card into any Buffalo Wild Wings in Utah, before August 15, 2016.

Step 2: Show your card, on a mobile device or via prionted copy, to your server.

Step 3: The server will add 10% of your total sales to BBBSU’s running total. It’s that easy!


bwwteammatecardPrint this page or show your server this card
to help support Utah children that are facing adversity by providing them with one-on-one mentoring.


*This Teammate Card is valid at ANY Utah Buffalo Wild Wings location.*


60 Men 60 Days


Be a “Big” help! Start a child’s school year off right!

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is hitting the pavement this summer with an ambitious plan to enroll 60 men in 60 days as Big Brothers,  and start the    matching process for the 295 boys on the Wait List, waiting as long as 12 months. The campaign started June 15, 2016 and  will end August 15, 2016,    encourages men to step up and volunteer. We’re looking for caring adults of all genders and cultures but the  organization’s greatest need is for men to    enroll and mentor.

Currently, we have 258 male mentors matched with a child compared to the 504 female mentors matched with a child in Utah. BBBSU  created the 60 Men 60 Days campaign to address this demand so no child waits an extended amount of time for a Big Brother.

 “Being a Big Brother to my Little Brother Gabe was one of the most important and satisfying roles in my life,” said Matt Wollam, vice  president of Wollam Construction. “When I met Gabe he was a shy 12 year old boy with no male role model. All he needed was a chance  and someone to care about him. I am happy to say Gabe is now a confident 22 year old marine who is starting his first semester of college  at Weber State University.”

Mentoring relationships have proven to strengthen a child’s ability to thrive educationally and to make positive choices. We want  to passionately pursue our mission to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally-supported one-to-one  relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Based on yearly Utah surveys of all children who have taken part in national  BBBS mentoring programs in 2015, “Littles” showed significant improvements in attitudes toward risky behaviors, scholastic competence, and social acceptance.

  • foosball_forblogpost_60M60D93% of children became more socio-emotionally competent in our program
  • 91% of children felt said they were less likely to engage in risky behaviors
  • 89% of children improved or maintained their belief in their own educational success

We are inviting males from all over the state of Utah to sign-up to become a mentor for three different programs:

  • Community-Based Mentoring: Mentors and children ages 6-18 years meet 2-4 times per month for a minimum of one year. Activities are based on individual interests and can be anything from going to the park, library or a baseball game.
  • Site-Based Mentoring: Mentors and children at a designated location, usually a school, (either at lunch or after school) meet for one hour each week while school is in session, and on and off throughout the summer. Activities include homework, board games and four square!
  • Mentor 2.0: A new technological way of approaching one-to- one mentoring, Mentor 2.0 gives high-school students the tools and support they need to graduate from High School and succeed in College.

Are you ready to help change a life? Fill out an application NOW to help us reach our goal!



Anyone Can Make A Difference

Making a difference in the life of a child can happen in many different ways. Due to time constraints, or other circumstances not everyone can commit to mentoring, but there are other ways to help. People like Shantel VanWagoner show that with just a little bit of effort, anyone can make a difference.

(null)Shantel’s kids had the idea that their family should organize a carnival for all their neighbors to enjoy. Many parents would likely just pat their tot on the head and blow the idea off, but the VanWagoners ran with it. They raised $115 with their homemade carnival and generously donated the proceeds to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. They did all this with little more than an idea and the willingness to make it work.

This isn’t the first time that Shantel has lent a helping hand to kids in need at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. She was a Big Sister almost 11 years ago for a little 8-year-old girl and really enjoyed the experience. “I believe fully in the (BBBSU) program and in what it does,” Shantel said.

IMG_1146She is definitely not afraid of working hard to make big differences in children’s lives, but her carnival shows how far a little effort can go too. She said that after her kids gave her the idea, she had them go around the neighborhood with signs advertising the event and promoted it on their neighborhood Facebook page. They also stopped by the store and bought a few small prizes, cookies, and lemonade to prepare for all the people in attendance.IMG_1137

When asked what advice she would give those people who don’t know if or how they can make a difference, she pointed to the work her kids did to make her carnival a reality. “Even children, who just have good intentions and want to have fun, can make a big difference in people’s lives,” she said. “There are all kinds of ways to make a difference.”

Find out how you can make a difference, big or small, in the lives of Utah kids. LEARN MORE




2015 Summer Picnic

On July 29, 2015 we hosted a picnic for all Bigs, Littles, and their families at Murray Park. There was plenty to enjoy for all who attended the event. The kids hurtled from one exciting game to the next, with entertainment only a few steps in any direction. There was Tug-of-war, Cakewalk, Frisbee, face painting, a nearby playground, and more to keep all tykes large and small in high spirits.Eddie Gist

While most of the games there were mostly kid-oriented, there was plenty of great food and company for the adults as well. There were delicious hamburgers and hot dogs to chow down on, which were in high demand for all the hungry guests. The gazebo that served as the dinner area was packed with people, who enjoyed some pleasant conversation and some great grub.

The picnic was a huge success and it was clear from just a glance that all the kids there had a blast. But it couldn’t have been done without the generous and exceptional support from organizations like Smith’s, The Gap, Ute CrossFit, and City Cakes.

BS Laurel Udy LS Dyneri EscobarThe event was a great hit and it was wonderful to see so many hardworking volunteers and families enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation. Again, shout-outs to Smith’s, The Gap, Ute CrossFit, City Cakes, and all our volunteers for making this picnic a blast for all who attended. – Alex Harrington

Mentoring Changes Lives

Oftentimes, one life can make the greatest of differences in many others. Sometimes, that difference is so keenly felt by many, but no one can know how truly powerful that effect is. For Teri Iverson, the Southern Coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, that life belonged to Steven Petersen.

Steven started his path with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah in a pretty unusual place. He walked into a bar where Teri worked as a waitress with a big group of friends. Teri mentioned to them how they could volunteer as Big Brothers at BBBSU. Everyone in the group laughed it off as nothing more than a crazy idea. Everyone except Steven, that is.IMG_3508

He went on to be a Big Brother to several kids. As wonderful as the commitments that he made were, they were not the only reason that Steven made such an impression on Teri. “(Steven) recruited his girlfriend, his roommate, and his friends,” she said. “He recruited about 15 people over the course of the time I’ve known him.”

As important as doing volunteer work is, almost more important is spreading the word and leading others to volunteer as well. Each of the people that Steven influenced went on to become Big Brothers and Big Sisters for their respective matches and changed lives because of it. Each of these people are responsible for a wonderful change in the lives of the kids they helped, but the driving force that led them to their commitments was Steven’s willingness to open up and take a chance to invite someone to share in the volunteer experience.

The work that Steven did inspired Teri in many ways, as she expressed in a poem she wrote on her personal blog. “Because one young man named Steven opened his heart and inspired groups of people, children’s lives were changed for the better, forever,” she wrote. “Because of Steven the world is a little brighter for all of us.” Steven would never admit it, but the work he has done created a great ripple of change in the lives of so many.

IMG_3511Teri has worked at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah for many years, but it’s clear that Steven has a special place in her heart. Because of him, she knows the extent of the powerful change people like Steven can make. She said, “People [often] think, ‘What is the world coming to?’ But I see college kids doing this kind of work, and I think, ‘We’re in pretty good hands.’” – Alex Harrington

Learn how you can become a Big influence on a child’s life. LEARN MORE


The Importance of Mentoring

For those of us, who grew up with role models like brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers who guided our decisions and lives, it can be difficult to imagine life without even one of these people who helped shape us into who we are. How could we become the person that we want to be without our many role models and mentors?

Many children have to face this question every day without the comforting luxury of having a strong and supporting figure to rely on. For one reason or another, these children are forced to grow up without the guidance that many others take for granted. How can they grow into who they want to be on their own?

The truth is, with the help of big-hearted volunteers, they don’t have to. With mentoring programs like those at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, children can experience real and loving relationships that give them direction and guidance in their lives. Volunteering to help these children in their time of need will have a very tangible and impactful effect on their lives.PramilaStephanie

Stephanie Rokich has experienced this effect more than most as the Community Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for United Way of Salt Lake. Ever since she studied social injustice at Gonzaga University in Washington, Stephanie has been interested in volunteer work to help those in need. “As cliché as it sounds, I want to make the world a better place,” she said. Over the course of ten years, Stephanie experienced many ways to help people, including volunteering.

But for many people, volunteering has become an ugly word, associated with hard work and massive demands on time. Stephanie is doing her best to help people see past these misconceptions about volunteer work. She knows that not everyone can be Mother Teresa. “First, you have to find something you’re passionate about,” she advised. Just as some people are suited for big jobs like volunteering at the homeless shelter, others are more happy and comfortable helping in smaller, but no less important ways. “(We want to) make people see they’re part of a solution,” Stephanie said.

At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, volunteering comes in all shapes and sizes as well. There are many ways to help out kids who need us, without fear of succumbing to the imagined pressure from volunteering. When asked about her two mentorships at BBSU, Stephanie said, “It is the most fun you can have as a volunteer. I get as much out of (the relationship) as my Little does.”Pramila

By volunteering at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, not only can you improve a child’s life, but you can change your own life as well. Though volunteer work can seem like an intimidating gauntlet at first glance, it doesn’t have to be. By using your passion and talents to your advantage, what seems like a simple gesture can make a world of difference to those who need a helping hand. – Alex Harrington

Learn how you can become a Big influence on a child’s life. LEARN MORE

Being There

More than a decade into my match with Jeremiah and there are still rewards every time we see each other.

Most recently I called Jeremiah, who is now 17, about going to an RC helicopter flying competition — something I figured he would find pretty fun. To my surprise, he responded back that he needed help with his homework instead.

So happily I picked up some Chinese food and drove out to his house. After catching up over dinner, we dug into his research Created by DPE, Copyright IRIS 2009paper. While it’s always fulfilling to give him a hand when he asks, it’s even better when we can connect beyond the academic. After about two hours of hard work, Jeremiah said he needed my advice. We spent the next hour focusing not on schoolwork but focusing instead on life.

These are the most rewarding moments I have as a Big Brother. When Jeremiah comes to me for advice, I know the program is working. This is what Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about: Being there.

I had never really considered anything like Big Brothers Big Sisters before the organization approached me about being a mentor in 2004. But it was an instantaneous fit for me. Still, I had no idea I would still be a part of the program a decade later. Jeremiah was only 6 when we were matched and I had only planned to be involved for about two or three years. I figured that would give me enough time to make a small difference in Jeremiah’s life.

Well, 10 years and five months later, Jeremiah is still a part of my life. I can only hope I’m still making a difference in his.

Passey OldLife can get busy sometimes. I work three jobs and chair the local satellite committee for Big Brothers Big Sisters in St. George. I also recently got engaged, so much of my free time is spent in wedding planning and helping my fiancée move her life from Arizona to Utah. It’s not always easy to find time to meet up with Jeremiah, who lives 20 minutes away from me, especially as I travel out of state once or twice a month.

A decade in, though, our match is now second-nature. Making time for Jeremiah is not something out of my routine. It’s part of my life. Visiting Jeremiah is not something I do for Big Brothers Big Sisters anymore. It’s something I do because he’s part of my life.

And when Jeremiah graduates from high school in May 2016 he will also graduate from the program. We will no longer be an official match within Big Brothers Big Sisters. But that doesn’t mean our relationship will end. By that time we will have been matched for 11 and a half years — more than half his life and more than a quarter of mine. Though our match will not be organized through the program, our relationship will continue. I will still be there for him and he will be there for me.

Being there. That’s what it’s all about.

Learn how you can become a Big influence on a child’s life. LEARN MORE

Passey Old-1



• • • Press Releases • • •

Press Releases
Press Releases

July 29, 2015- Golf Fore Kids’ Sake

December 16, 2015- Bowl For Kids’ Sake

January 6, 2015- Salt Lake County Recognizes January as Mentoring Month

January 15, 2016- Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Teams Up With BBBSU

January 26, 2016- BFKS Announce Press Release

June 15, 2016 – 60 Men 60 Days – Real Men Mentor

January 10, 2017 – National Mentoring Month


Big Brothers Big Sisters hosts golf tournament, celebrates new building– Deseret News. Aug. 26, 2015

105.9 KNRS Talk Radio– September 10, 2015

Mentoring Changes Live–  KUTV Fresh Living, January 7, 2016

Salt Lake County Mentoring Month– Fox 13 Good Day Utah, January 16, 2016

Letter: Step Up And Be A Mentor– Salt Lake Tribune, January 25, 2016

Letter: Thank A Mentor– Deseret News. January 26, 2016

Letter: Big Brothers Big Sisters- Deseret News, January 31, 2016

Change is near for big sisters and their littles at PCHS – The Park Record, May 17, 2016

Youthlinc connects Utah teens to local, international service opportunities – Deseret News, July 5, 2016

Big Brothers Big Sisters starts push for more men – The Park Record, July 7, 2016

Youth Mentoring & 60 Men 60 Days – KRCL: RadioActive, July 11, 2016

Student to Student: My experience as a “Big Sister” – The Park Record – Written by Jessica Curley, January 13, 2017