The mentoring program, which brings together adults willing to volunteer their time and children who may need an extra adult in their life, is hoping for a revival in Taos. Big Brothers Big Sisters Mountain Region Taos / Colfax (BBBS), who like many personal operations had to fight regionally during the pandemic, is looking for mentors or “Bigs” and Mentees or “Littles” for their Taos / Colfaxol area program.
The regional program, which has existed in the region since 2003, is re-emerging after the pandemic and hopes to attract support from adults and families across northern New Mexico. “We were without staff for a while, which I think made the community feel like we are no longer here,” said Jesse Pedersen, community director of BBBS Taos / Colfax Counties.
Pedersen hopes that with the slow return to normal, volunteers will be brought out for something that she sees as relevant to the community at this point in time.
“Children have been so isolated from Zoom school last year that we really hope that more children will be interested when things open up because we have a lot of fun doing with our mentors and mentees,” she said, adding that it was “a struggle to get the word out”.
She said the nonprofit hopes to build a strong regional program and involve as many people as possible. However, Pedersen said it will require the trust of the community. “We have kind of a closed culture here and it takes a long time to settle in and get to know everyone and gain that trust that I’ve really been working on since I started.”
Pedersen, a native of New Mexico, said she started at BBBS last July, moved during a pandemic, and started an outreach job.
She said the nonprofit has several ways to build trusting relationships between bigs and littles. She said that BBBS has a “very strict screening and interview process and it takes a lot of time to find matches. This is something I really want to make sure the community knows.”
The benefits of participating in the program have been shown to be beneficial for children ages 7-17. “We have database evidence that shows that personal mentoring really is one of the best ways to keep kids connected and improve their academics and keep them away from risky behaviors,” Pedersen said.
BBBS seeks help from both individual adults and local schools. Pedersen explained that there are two types of contact: adult volunteer mentoring and school mentoring. Adult volunteers spend approximately one hour a week (or four hours a month) with their little one and can do any activity they like, such as: B. hiking, cycling or eating ice cream.
The school mentoring program aims to bring high school students together with elementary or middle school students. Pedersen said this program is more school-focused, with Bigs currently helping Littles transition to personal schooling.
The Taos / Colfax Counties program currently has 15 games, but they hope that number will increase. “We absolutely need mentors and also children who could use extra attention,” said Pedersen.
In addition to pushing ahead with expanding the program, BBBS has several major events and projects planned for this summer.
• Groundbreaking for the literacy project – Monday, June 21, at Seco Live: BBBS has partnered with the Taos Milagro Rotary Club and the Taos Community Foundation to provide funding to replace all lending libraries, or “free small libraries” across the county. The libraries are also being equipped with new children’s books.
• Hi-Lo ride – Saturday, June 26th, 10 a.m .: The Hi-Lo Ride is the first fundraiser for BBBS in over two years and a ride from Peñasco High School to Taos Ski Valley is being put together in collaboration with members of the low rider and motorcycle community (TSV is the presenting sponsor). A ticket for the raffle, a t-shirt and participation in the ride are purchased for 30 US dollars.
• End of Summer Bash, Date TBA (beginning of August): This will be a field day “back to school” event that is free for the community. They plan to distribute backpacks and school supplies to 100 children.