It is not difficult to find reports about the negatives in our country and around the world. Reports regarding problems with the financial system, healthcare, education, crime, ecology, drug abuse, poor food sources, foreign threats, poverty, or job losses flood the news on a daily basis. One could easily feel helpless to make a difference.
But there are people here in Pagosa Springs who have chosen to help change the world one child at a time. These people volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, spending a few hours each week to help a child learn to face the world with hope and optimism. Being a volunteer is about establishing a one on one relationship with a child who needs someone other than a parent or guardian to listen to them, guide them, and spend time with them. It seems simple, but a few hours a week spent with a mentor can have a powerful impact on the life of a child.
There was a story aired recently on ABC’s Good Morning America (go to www.bbig.org to see the film clip) about Chester Ross and David Loughran of White Plains, N.Y., who were matched by Big Brothers Big Sisters in 1979 when Chester was 65 and David was 7. David was an only child being raised by a divorced single mother. He had no male role model in his life. When told he would be matched to a mentor, he had expected a younger man. But from the moment he met Chester, he knew they would be great friends.
They met once a week for years enjoying simple things such as going to movies or watching ball games together. One time Chester took David to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Afterwards they went to a fancy restaurant where Chester taught David to wear a coat and tie. Their time together became invaluable to both of them. “It’s not a one-way deal,” said Chester. “I get as much out of him as he gets out of me.”
The relationship did not end at David’s graduation from high school. Chester surprised David by offering to pay for his college tuition. He told David he was part of his family and that this is what families do. While certainly this is not something that is expected of Big Brothers, it was a typical gesture from Chester and life-changing for David. Their relationship has remained strong for 30 years. When David became engaged to be married, he asked Chester, who by then was 90 years old, to be his best man. “I told him I would be honored to do it under one condition,” said Chester. “I won’t be responsible for the bachelor party!”
We don’t know what would have become of David or what would happen in the lives of the 27 “Littles” here in Pagosa Springs without the love and support of their Big Brothers, Big Sisters. It is not hard to look at the statistics and make an educated guess. There is little doubt that their world is a much better place because someone cares.
More volunteers are needed. Please contact Sally Neel at 264-5077, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can become Big in a child’s life.