Why I Choose to Give by TJ Shull

Let me start by first introducing myself. My name is Thomas Shull, I have worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters since getting my undergrad at NAU in 2011. I have seen our agencies ignite the potential in countless Littles and Bigs (including myself) for a decade now! I wanted to share a little about why my wife and I give our tax credit each year. 

Why does the Big Brothers Big Sisters program mean so much to me? Mentorship is a privilege not all of us are awarded. Some find mentorship through their relationships with their parents, grandparents, or their siblings. Others find mentorship from a teacher, a peer, a coach, and some get matched at Big Brothers Big Sisters. Unfortunately for some, they never get the privilege to be mentored by someone who wants to see them reach their full potential. 

Although I faced my fair share of hardships growing up in a single-parent household, whose father was in and out of jail and addicted to drugs, I can thankfully say I am not one of these individuals who did not get the privilege to be mentored. I have been mentored by many people in my life but the most profound would be my grandmother. She always pushed me to do my best, gave me advice where advice was needed, and cheered for me in my successes. For many, their fathers teach them what to do, but for me, my father taught me what not to do. My grandmother helped me to see and understand that in a sensitive way. Relating his choices in life to things that I can do differently. I know and appreciate the power of mentorship because I had the privilege to be mentored and it has helped shape who I am today. For that reason alone I love the power of mentorship, and regularly advocate for it through programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters because not everyone has a grandmother who can be their mentor. 

So why support the program through the Tax Credit? What does it do? How does it work? The way I like to think of this is you aren’t actually giving your tax Credit to us, you are directing your state tax money to BBBSAZ. The tax credit is an amazing opportunity for individuals and married couples here in The Valley because you receive a dollar-for-dollar credit. 

That means if you owe $400 filing single, but you gave a $400 tax credit to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona, you will no longer owe $400 on your state tax return. So instead of owing and paying that money to Arizona, you can GIVE it to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and submit Form 321 on your taxes. If you didn’t owe any money, you can still give your $400 tax credit to BBBSAZ, you would NOW get $400 back on your state tax return. If you are filing with your spouse, this changes to $800 instead of $400! 

That is pretty amazing, right? Arizona is one of the very few states where you can actually direct your tax credit dollars to an organization you believe in by making a direct gift to them, and submitting a tax form when you do your taxes. 

So let me tell you a little about what those dollars actually get used for. Here at Big Brothers Big Sisters, we strive to make successful Matches that last longer than 12 months. How do we do that? Well first, we have Program Specialists who are specifically trained to make meaningful Matches between the Little and Big. They do this by interviewing the Little, the Parent and the Big to find what everyone’s likes and interests are, and then they take that information to make the Match based on those similarities. Pretty cool right? In order to make these successful Matches we also need to recruit more volunteers and more children into our programs. So we have an amazing recruitment team who goes out into the community and shares the power of having a mentor and being a mentor. Once the match is made, the Program Specialist spends their days helping to maintain those relationships. They do this by meeting with the Big, Little, and the Little’s family, on a regular basis to help guide the Match into a long, sustainable, and successful relationship. The longer our Bigs and Littles are matched, the bigger impact our Bigs have on our Littles, and vice versa! 

Your tax dollars just directly helped ignite a child’s full potential in your own community! Think about that for a minute. What if every child met their full potential? What would our community look like?

I’ve thought about it, and it is a beautiful thing. We are all uniquely gifted, and it can take a mentor to help ignite those gifts! As I mentioned earlier, not everyone has the privilege to have and be mentored by someone. But if we had more volunteers; more Bigs to be mentors to more children in our community we could make an even bigger impact. One that could ripple into future generations of Bigs. We are excited for our future and we thank you in advance for considering our mentoring program for your Tax Credit donation. 

To make your tax credit donation today please visit our website. To see the form to claim and direct your tax dollars on your Arizona State taxes, click here

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