Safety Day at Sacaton Boys & Girls Club

On Wednesday, May 8th, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona hosted a “Safety Day” at the Sacaton Boys & Girls Club, in partnership with the Sacaton Boys & Girls Club and Gila River Police Department. The Gila River Fire Department and Gila River EMS were also in attendance and represented their respective departments at the event. 

Approximately 75 youths and some families came through to tour emergency vehicles and had the opportunity to interact directly with first responders in the community.  This was also a chance for everyone to learn more about the Gila River site-based mentoring program that runs during the school year at the Sacaton Boys & Girls Club site after school. 

The afterschool site-based mentoring program began in 2012 under a partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and the Sacaton Boys & Girls Club. The mentoring program matches volunteer mentors, “Bigs” with B&GC youth members, “Littles”.  The matches meet biweekly at the club for an hour and engage in various activities that may include board games, arts and crafts, group activities such as kickball, etc. Most activities are on site, under the supervision of BBBS and B&GC staff.   

In 2017, the Gila River Police Department began supporting the program efforts by encouraging officers to become mentors in the program as part of the “Bigs with Badges” initiative to serve as mentors to youth in the Gila River Indian Community.   

Bigs with Badges is a unique opportunity to connect first responders with youth in the community to engage with each other in a positive way.  Youth may also naturally learn more about various potential career paths through their interactions with their Big.  In 2020, Commander Jeffrey Hunter was recognized as the agency Site-Based Big Brother of the Year and in 2021, Officer James Milano was recognized as our agency Site-Based Big of the Year as an outstanding volunteer in our program.  In April 2024, Commander Hunter also sat on an Innovative Program panel at our BBBS Arizona Statewide Association Meeting in Phoenix, speaking on behalf of the Bigs with Badges initiative.   

We are thankful for our continued partnerships with the Sacaton Boys & Girls Club and Gila River Police Department to serve the youth in the Gila River Indian Community with mentors. We hope to continue to grow the program by inviting other first responders from the Gila River community, in addition to the Gila River Police Department, to become Bigs with Badges. 

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