Mentoring through a Pandemic

Big Brother Devin and Little Brother Prince

We are currently experiencing a once in a lifetime pandemic. Schools have been out for months. Families are having to make tough decisions at the dinner table and we are also living through civil unrest due to the racial inequities that plague our society. Although it seems we have a lot of new challenges to address, one thing that has not changed is the need for more big brothers and big sisters. Now more than ever, our youth need a mentor in their corner to help them navigate through life’s most pressing challenges. 

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, how can one possibly mentor at a time when Covid-19 is rampant in our community? The answer is quite simple, virtual mentoring! Virtual mentoring is an innovative way to still build meaningful relationships from afar. When the pandemic hit Arizona, BBBS responded immediately by making their entire onboarding for new volunteers virtual. This means your information session, intake interview, and even your initial match meeting can all be done virtually. The best part about this is that you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona wants to ensure that the safety of our Littles and Bigs is the utmost priority. 

Due to the innovative flexible ways to become a mentor how could I not sign up myself. I applied to become a big a few months ago and was recently matched to my Little Brother in May. My Little Brother is 10 years old and very active. At first, I was worried that he might not be comfortable meeting up virtually but boy was I wrong. So far we’ve had 3 virtual outings. All have been very engaging and fun! In our first virtual meeting, we decided to water paint together. I must admit my little brother’s painting skills put mine to shame. He’s a very talented young man. While we were painting we also had a conversation on current events. Specifically around the current race issues and policing in our community. My Little Brother was confused and had questions as to why these things were happening. It was a great first virtual meeting. During our 2nd virtual meeting, we decided to play Xbox online games with each other. We simply pointed our devices at the tv screens and played Minecraft together. Playing video games with my little brother was fun even though I still don’t understand how Minecraft works. For our 3rd and most recent virtual outing, my little brother decided he wanted to make macaroni and cheese together from scratch. With the help of his mom, he was able to get the ingredients needed to make it happen. The next thing you know we are both making homemade mac and cheese virtually. Although we can’t see each other in person we have still developed a solid foundation for what I hope is a long-lasting relationship. Virtual mentoring works! So if you’re eager to make a difference in someone’s life I highly recommend you sign up to become a big now! Your virtual Little Sister or Little Brother awaits you! 

Devin Del Palacio
Director of Community Outreach

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