EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A local non profit organization is looking for volunteers to become a big brother or a big sister for children here in the sun city. 

Nationwide Big Brothers Big Sisters located in the 1700 block of Wyoming Avenue has been around since 1904, helping El Paso children between six to 16 years old. Who are matched with an adult, 20 years old and up.

The call for more volunteers comes as the new school year is well underway. The Development Director at Big Brothers Big Sisters Rebecca Romero tells KTSM since the pandemic, the number of mentors dropped significantly and encourages others to join in on this great cause. 

On their Facebook page, you can see a boy named Shawn who is 12 years old. He has been waiting for a big brother or big sister for almost a year now.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Paso Facebook

Since the pandemic hit, the organization says they’ve been struggling.

“We need volunteers, but we can’t make those impacts without volunteers, and we are severely short on volunteers right now. It’s always a struggle to keep up with demand. We always have a larger number of youth enrolling than we do volunteers enrolling to be mentors,” Romero said.

With over 100 children on the waiting list. So far only 80 big brothers and sisters are matched with a child.

Romero says although they have group events for the matched siblings. The children on the waiting list still get to participate with their families as they wait for that mentor to come into their lives.

“It’s really rewarding, I mean you’re going to make a big difference in a young person’s life. You get to be there for them when they don’t have anybody,” Keller said. 

David Keller has been a mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters for almost 10 years now and although his first little brother has aged out of the program he says he still keeps in touch with him.

“We would just throw the football, we would go and have lunch, or go see a movie, we do things he enjoyed doing. We played video games. When he first learned to drive, we would drive out to the desert and kind of give him some tips. Main thing was just to be there for him,” Keller said.

Now Keller is a big brother to a new little brother, telling KTSM he’s never had a little brother in real life. Adding that it’s not about having a brother, it’s about having a new friend, and being a role model. 

Keller says being a big brother takes him back to his childhood days when he was 11, knowing  he can help him overcome his challenges.   

With the course of the pandemic,  it’s been impossible for parents to meet their child’s match. 

“We have that match meeting, and the mentor and the parent do get time just on their own to speak to each other about what the child’s needs are and how the mentor can maybe help,” Romero said.

“We have that match meeting, and the mentor and the parent do get time just on their own to speak to each other about what the child’s needs are and how the mentor can maybe help,” Romero said.

Romero says in most cases the reason the child enrolls is because they’re either an only child, they don’t get enough attention at home or they’ve always wanted another adult to confide in.

Once an adult signs up, each match has a case worker to check in on them and even find things for them to do together out in the community. 

“You of course have to pass a background check, safety has to be taught priority when you’re dealing with children. They have to commit to be matched with the child for a minimum of one year but many last well beyond that. I am still friends with my little sister, who I met when she was 12 and she is now almost 28,” Romero said.

Once you are matched you don’t have to meet at the same time everyday as long as they commit to be there for their little sibling twice a month.

Romero says it’s not about the length of time, but rather the quality time they spend together. 

If you’re interested, you can also sign up when you click here or give them a call at (915) 544-4203 to become a big brother or a big sister.

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