Mentoring matters

Katherine Rehbein, Susan Ito and sisters Bianca and Brianna Barrera celebrating our first responders

by Karen Leslie, writer with heart

Celebrating National Mentoring Month brought Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County, a nonprofit with big hearts to the Vagabond Coffee Shop on Sunday January 21st. “Bigs” and “Littles” along with their mentors gathered to share a meal and with glee presented handmade cards and thank you notes to our First Responders.

The organization chose the Vagabond Coffee Shop to give back for all the free meals that were served to the First Responders during the crisis of the Thomas Fires.

Retired SB firefighter and Red Cross participant Bob Engler shares, “The generosity of the people at this event and how they went out of their way to say thank you was humbling and appreciated.”

Owner Jolene McBee says, “What better way to teach kids to give back and the firemen have never been thanked like Ventura has every day.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters has been in existence for more than 100 years nationally and more than 45 years locally and have been making meaningful monitored matches between adult volunteers (Bigs) and children (Littles) ages 6-18 across the county. They develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect and impact on the lives of young people. Consistency and commitment are the cornerstones of this program and their mission is to provide all children free from adversity with supported one-on-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better.

In her 30th year and a big sister for 26 years, CEO Lynne West shares, “I find this to be a gratifying career. Big Brother Big Sisters was first in the US to have a dedicated foster program. Ventura County attends to 1,500 children a year and as a big sister myself, I have seen the impact consistency has made on my little. I have the privilege of watching many littles grow up and become the first in their family to ever graduate from high school and go on for a college degree. Bigs can open up the world for these littles by exposing them to new activities and experiences.”

BBSVC’s vision is for all children to achieve success in school, work and life. Fifteen year old little, Silvia Chable enthusiastically shares, “I like helping out the community and people in need and hope to become a deputy”

Big sister Kathy Lazier shares, “My motto is keep moving forward! My little now 16 has been a match made in heaven. It’s really cool to mentor and have an effect on someone’s life and direction which brings much joy to my life.”

This nonprofit is committed to bringing its program to every child who needs and wants it. Big brother Aaron Kirby says, “This is an amazing opportunity to give back to the community. It feels good to see the excitement on the face of my little while at a race or baseball game and taking him places to experience something for the first time is personally rewarding. Once Elijah graduates from the program, I anticipate we will continue to have a lifelong bond.”

Little, Elijah Rhoads says, “He is a father figure, someone I can count on and trust.” VP of Marketing and Recruiter Danica Selvaggio warmly shares, “National Mentoring Month is a way to start the year remembering that we all have role models who guides us. It is also a way to encourage our bigs and littles to start off strong, set goals for themselves and keep the momentum going all year long. With help from the community we hope 2018 will be the most successful year ever!”

Wisdom and friendship is at the heart of BBSVC and BBSVC believes that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive.

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