Bigs In Blue: Ryan and Robert

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When one line connects to another, and another, something beautiful happens. Individual marks and strokes, when matched carefully together, create an incredible work of art. At least, that’s how Little Brother Robert sees it. Robert is an artist. His imagination pours out onto paper when he draws. When he is creating art, he feels comfortable and in control. Big Brother Ryan discovered that and used art to get to know his Little Brother.

Because of donors like you, Big Brothers Big Sisters is able to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Little Brother Robert is part of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Oliver Hill Mentoring Program. Oliver Hill was a prominent African American attorney who fought for equitable pay for minority teachers in the Brown vs. Board of Education case. Robert was in 3rd grade when he was matched with Ryan in January 2014. Big Brother Ryan is a police officer and detective for Roanoke City, which is a pivotal reason he decided to become a Big Brother.

“I became a police officer because I wanted to help the community, but I knew that wasn’t enough to make a true impact. That’s why I decided to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters.” Ryan is from the community, so he has a vested interest in seeing the children here succeed, especially his Little Brother, Robert.

When Big Brother Ryan and Little Brother Robert were first matched, Robert was quiet and shy. Of course, it didn’t take long for him to open up to his Big Brother. During the first few months of their friendship, Ryan and Robert spent time building trust. One way they did that was through drawing. “When we draw together, it really gets Robert into his comfort zone. Then we are really able to open up to each other and have good conversations,” Ryan said. Soon, they learned that they had more in common than they thought. Robert and Ryan both have similar senses of humor, and it shows. Most of the time they spend together, they are laughing with one another.

Every minute Robert and Ryan spend together, they are developing a relationship built on trust. As they complete a STEM project, Robert is confiding in Ryan about his troubles at school. With every football pass, they are fostering a strong relationship built on shared interests. Each stroke of their colored pencils or markers brings with it a promise that Robert can depend on his Big Brother. Robert says that if he never met his Big Brother, he would probably get in a lot of trouble at school. Little Brother Robert knows that Ryan cares about his behavior, and Robert wants to make his Big Brother proud. Ryan often tells Robert, “We are brothers now. I will always be there for you, and I know you will always be there for me.” Because you support Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ryan makes an incredible impact on his Little Brother’s life.

As time has passed, Little Brother Robert’s family adopted Big Brother Ryan into the family. Robert’s mother, Malinda, sees the amazing impact Ryan has had on her son’s life, and she welcomes Ryan with open arms. “Ryan has been there for us when there was no one else,” she says.

This is not a story about race, gender, or occupation. Ryan and Robert’s story is one of people who care deeply about each other. When Big Brothers Big Sisters matches a child with a caring adult, the individual lines of their lives are woven together to create a strong and powerful piece of art. Ryan, Robert, and their families’ lives have been changed because Big Brothers Big Sisters was there to bring them together.

You are an important piece of this work of art! Our donors provide the resources necessary to create and sustain these life-changing mentoring relationships. Will you change the lives of other families in Southwest Virginia? While we served 403 children with caring adult mentors in 2015, there are more than 100 children waiting for the same opportunity. Help us provide Big Brothers and Big Sisters to those kids. You have the power to create another strong mentoring relationship in this community.

Click the link below to donate to support matches like Ryan and Robert. Thank you for supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters and creating mentoring friendships in Southwest Virginia.

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Big Brother of the Year: Shawn Utt

We arDSC_0131e thrilled to celebrate Big Brother of the Year Shawn Utt! Shawn has been a faithful Big Brother and a great friend to the agency. He is a consistent and caring role model in Little Brother Joseph’s life.

Joseph had many problems in school in 2012. He found himself in the principal’s office weekly, and his report cards showed D’s and F’s. Big Brother Shawn and Little Brother Joseph were matched in 2012 and have spent the past 3 years building their friendship. Joseph has not received a single disciplinary action since being matched with Shawn, and he brought home his first straight A report card this past year. During their time together, Shawn and Joseph research careers in engineering and video game design. Shawn tries to expose Joseph to new experiences and ideas that could trigger a passion, career path, or hobby.

It is easy to see how Shawn has changed Joseph’s life for the better, forever.

Over The Edge FAQ

Along with a new and unique event often comes many questions. Over The Edge is no different. We wanted to take some time to answer some of the questions we receive about Over The Edge.

1. What is Over The Edge?

Over the Edge is a thrilling and unique fundraiser where participants raise $1000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters using our online fundraising tool. On May 2, they are able to rappel 132 feet from the roof of the Patrick Henry!

2. If I sign up, am I guaranteed to go Over The Edge on May 2?

Only the first 75 people to raise $1000 are able to go Over The Edge. This means that the sooner you sign up, the better! However, if you are interested in securing your spot TODAY, ask about our Credit Card Guarantee Form.

3. $1000 is a lot of money! How can I raise it?

When you register for Over The Edge, you create an online fundraising page that you can post on social media, send out in emails, and promote in other ways online. When you register, you pay a $100 registration fee, which applies to your $1000 fundraising goal. If you have 4 friends or family members who donate $100, 6 who donate $50, and 10 who donate $20, you are there! $1000 is definitely a great deal of money, and we understand that it can sometimes be uncomfortable to ask your friends and family to support you. However, keep in mind that you are raising money for a great cause!
4. What does the money I raise go to support?

Each Big/Little match costs about $1000 to support for one year. This includes background checks, insurances, technology, and staff to ensure each match is both safe and beneficial to the child. Each person who goes Over The Edge makes it possible for Big Brothers Big Sisters to change the life of another child.
5. Are donations tax-deductible?

Absolutely! Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia is a 501(c)3 organization, and every donation made is tax-deductible.

6. Is Over The Edge safe?

Over The Edge is completely safe! Over The Edge is a professional rappelling company who is OSHA, SPRATA, and IRATA compliant. They use a 2-rope system, which means that if something were to malfunction, they have 2 different back up devices. Tens of thousands of people have gone Over The Edge all over the world, and they have never had one malfunction. Last year, we even had 4 children go Over The Edge!

7. Can I go Over The Edge with a friend?

We actually encourage people to go Over The Edge together! The event is set up for 2 people to go over at a time. Grab a friend, sign up, and help each other meet your fundraising goals!

8. How do I sign up?

To sign up, visit www.bigslittles.org/events/ote. Follow the directions on the page!

9. I still have more questions. Who do I contact?

We welcome your questions! Please contact Jessica Scaggs at 540-204-5402 or jscaggs@bigslittles.org.

Giving Tuesday: Dec 2, 2014

Jessica and Kianna

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, Black Friday is a day for deals, and Tuesday is our opportunity to give back to our community.

Jessica and Kianna have been matched in our program for 10 years. From 7 years old to 17, with all the changes that come with growing up, Kianna has always had Jessica to lean on as her rock. Through marriage and kids, Jessica has never given up on her relationship with Kianna. An neither has this community. It costs about $1000 to support one match for one year. Our community has invested $10,000 in Jessica and Kianna.

“If I could say anything to the donor who supported us, I would say ‘God bless you,'” Kianna told us. Kianna is in the process of applying for colleges, and she just received her first acceptance letter!

This Giving Tuesday, we ask you to give the same opportunity to one of the 150 children currently waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister. A gift of any size will help change children’s lives for the better, forever.

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Amazon Smile: You Shop. Amazon Gives.

Get a Little. Give a Little.

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

To ensure your holiday purchases are benefitting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia, follow this link! 

8 Awesome Things About Being a Big

We asked our Bigs to tell us the best parts of being Bigs. We were thrilled/surprised/inspired by the answers we received.

1. You learn more than you teach.

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Jesse: I would say that the best part of being a Big is the fact that I learn as much from my little as he learns from me. As someone who does not have children myself I have learned a lot about being patient, about what goes through the mind of a child on a day-to-day basis, about what drives and inspires our youth, and mostly about how much of an impact one person can have on another (especially young) person.

Tim: I agree with Jesse. I went into this thinking I would be able to give time and teach my little things he might not otherwise learn, but what I am finding is each time I spend time with my little he teaches me things I need to learn about life, living, etc. Great experience!

2. You have someone who is always happy to see you.

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Brittany: Seeing my Little Sis’s eyes light up Friday afternoons when she sees me. I don’t think there is anyone in my life who gets so excited just to hang out with me. After drudging through nursing school clinicals, homework, and exams all week, it’s so wonderful to feel a sense of purpose and take time to enjoy something as simple as playing cards

Nicole: My favorite part is knowing that my little looks forward to my visits, that makes me happy. Also, knowing that he can be himself around me makes me feel like I’m doing something right. Today when I was with him one of his teachers came in and said she had never seen him so happy, and that puts a smile on my face. Being with him can make Friday mornings even better. He’s a sweetie. 🙂

Carolyn: The best part about being a Big is the joy I see in my little’s eyes when I show up at school. Sometimes in life, it really is the simple things and he proved this to me.

3. Adventures!

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Derek: The best part is the adventures we have together and how much fun my Little Brother has. he lights up, asking questions and acting like a squirrel just like adhd dont blame me haha! The experience is incredible and makes me think about being a father later down the road. 🙂 I think I learn more from him than what he learns from me. There is nothing greater than a childs genuine love.

4. You have a constant friend.

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Terry: It’s been a year since my Little Sister and I met for the first time and it is so neat to see how much both of us enjoy being together. Whether it’s going to a parade, seeing Christmas trees and lights, going to a farm, riding bikes, swimming, watching movies, cooking, planting flowers, doing homework and studying for tests, or just talking… we have fun being together.

5. You can see the impact you are making.

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Hannah: The best part of being a Big Sister is watching my Little Sister get more confident with each of our visits. Last year she could barely read and this year each time I visit she has something she wants to read me or shows me a game that helps her learn. Knowing that she looks forward to my visits and being able to be something consistent in her life is more than I could have asked for

6. You get an instant example of how to be a better person.

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Kimberly: I’ve been with my Little for just under three years and I have to say that the best thing about being a Big is watching her grow into the young woman she’s becoming. She’s been through a lot of family and life changes since I met her, but she’s kept her head up and is still one of the most loving and caring people I know. Every time I’m with her, she reminds me of what it means to be resilient and endlessly curious, but also how important it is to be grateful and appreciative of everything life throws at us. The best part of being a Big is realizing that your Little is teaching you more about life than she even realizes and just hoping you’re giving her something as valuable in return

7. You make a difference.

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Gail: The best part is knowing that I’m an important part of a child’s life and that I’ve made a difference because of it.

8. Rock climbing, watergun fights, playing in the mud, making fun of girls.

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Mike: Rock climbing, watergun fights, playing in the mud, and making fun of girls. OH YEAH.