Big Event 

On Wednesday, January 24, 2024, over 100 Bigs, board members, staff, and alumni gathered to honor National Mentoring Month at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona annual Big Event.   This event honors our volunteers and the invaluable mentoring they offer to youth in our community. The time, energy, and guidance our volunteers provide are essential in helping our youth to navigate the challenges and opportunities of life and to become the best versions of themselves. 

The evening was emceed by Drew Shaw- a Big Brother to Little Taryhi. Not only did attendees enjoy an evening of food and fun, but many awards were also presented. The Linda Searfoss Staff Person of the Year was given to Kaycee Villalobos, a former Little and current Program Manager. The award is named after Linda Searfoss, who was named the Executive Director of Big Sisters of Arizona in 1972, and then for Valley Big Brothers Big Sisters in 1986 when the two organizations merged. Jade Rice was named the Barry Starr Award winner. Barry founded Big Brothers in 1976 after serving as a police and probation officer for several years. He remained the director until 1983 when he began a career in politics. 

The highlight of the evening was when two volunteers were named the 2024 Bigs of the Year. Big Brother Geoffrey Nail, not only has he been a fantastic Big Brother to his Little, but he has been involved and given back to the agency in many different ways over the years- including (but not exclusively) being an Executive Board Member, previous President of the Young Professionals Council, fundraising participant, and a speaker at many of our events.  

Geoff was matched to his Little Raazi when Raazi was just in the 4th grade.  

Over the years, the match has gone to the Larry Fitzgerald event, Cirque du Soleil, played basketball, gone to movies, running, volunteering, and even started their own podcast. You name it; they have been there and done that.  

They talk about the things going on in their lives, such as Raazi’s grades, friends, extracurricular activities, making positive choices, and his future.  

Raazi graduated from high school in December 2023 and is currently working. He was accepted to NAU in the fall with a partial scholarship but is also considering other options, such as trade schools, before making his final decision. With Geoff’s continued support and friendship, Razzi is ready to embark on the next chapter of his life. 

Raazi also wanted to share some kind words about his Big Brother: “Geoff has been my mentor for many years, but that’s not just it. He has been a friend, a teacher, a partner, a leader, and most important to me, a brother. He has always been there and answered every text or call I had. He inspires me to be a mentor or give advice to people all around me, to try to be a center of information just like he is. In saying all that, thank you for being the best big brother you could be to me that you could ever be.” – your Little Raazi. 

The 2024 Big Sister of the Year was presented to Big Sister Ivy Davis.  Ivy’s Little Sister Rhianna has overcome many obstacles in her young life and Ivy has stood by her side through it all. Rhianna has shared that Ivy is her role model and who she inspires to be. Ivy has been and continues to be the support Rhianna needs during her journey, and Ivy has reassured everyone she is not going anywhere.  

When sharing the news of Ivy’s award with Rhianna’s mom, she said the following:, “I would say that Ivy has just been so accommodating and supportive throughout her and Rhianna’s match, and she is so friendly, caring, and understanding., I hope her, and Rhianna can continue to grow in their relationship. I am so excited for her to receive this award!” 

Each volunteer left the evening with a renewed sense of our mission. As a token of our appreciation, logoed tote bags were given to each volunteer so they could represent BBBSAZ in style! We look forward to celebrating our volunteers again next January! 

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