Drafting Tomorrow’s Leaders: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona’s Call for Male Mentors 

By Debbie Smith, VP of Impact and Innovation, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona 

Throughout Maricopa County, a movement is brewing – one that seeks to bridge the gap between vulnerable youth and the mentors they so desperately need. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona (BBBSAZ), in collaboration with the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative, has launched the Big Draft campaign. This annual recruitment drive aims to draft a new class of mentors, more commonly known as our “Bigs,” to step up and guide the next generation. 

Inspired by the excitement of the NFL Draft, the Big Draft mirrors the process of selecting promising players, but with a twist: instead of athletes, BBBSAZ is drafting caring adults (particularly men) who are willing to invest their time and wisdom in shaping young lives. With over 200 youth, known as our “Littles,” currently on the waiting list for mentors in Maricopa County, the need for positive adult role models has never been more urgent. 

In a society where one in three children grows up without a consistent adult mentor, Big Brothers Big Sisters represents a beacon of hope. BBBSAZ has been serving the valley for 69 years, serving more than 65,000. Our vision is to help all youth achieve their full potential. Our program is driven by incredible Bigs who choose to give their time, life experience, guidance, and support to help youth navigate challenges and make positive life choices. 

Our Bigs join us in this effort because they know young people in our community need as many caring adults surrounding them, empowering and encouraging them as possible. Especially today, as we witness the climbing statistics of youth mental health challenges, bullying, violence, and the opioid crisis in our community. While our volunteers aren’t expected to fix these issues, research clearly shows that one of the best ways to combat the adversity a child experiences is by providing a caring adult who can light a better path, introduce positive opportunities, and continue to build on the potential that is already within them.   

The Big Draft campaign emphasizes that anyone can make a difference with the right support and commitment. Through this campaign, BBBSAZ aims to redefine mentorship, highlighting the profound impact that everyday moments of guidance and support can have on a young person’s life trajectory. 

On April 25th, 2024, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., BBBSAZ will host an NFL Draft Watch Party at our office (1615 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85016). We are inviting potential volunteers to join in the celebration of mentorship. Attendees will enjoy food, drinks, games, and the chance to connect with like-minded individuals eager to give back to their community. This event provides an informal setting for guests to learn more about becoming a Big and to have their questions about mentoring answered. 

As an incentive to join the cause, the first 50 people to RSVP and attend the event will receive a BBBS-branded jersey, symbolizing their commitment to becoming champions for youth in need. To RSVP or to learn more about the Big Draft, please contact me at dsmith@bbbsaz.org or visit www.bbbsaz.org/bigdraft

The Big Draft campaign is not just about recruiting mentors; it’s about investing in the future of our community. By answering our call to become a Big, individuals have the power to positively impact the lives of young people and contribute to the creation of a more nurturing and supportive society. We invite you to step up now, become a mentor, and help us draft tomorrow’s leaders. 

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