Making connections across generations can be valuable for all involved. That’s why the Family Service Agency started the Boomer BIGs Club, in which volunteers aged 55 and up are paired with “littles” from the community who could benefit from having a positive adult role model in their life. The agency’s program supervisor, Yeimi Arias, tells us more.
Why is this program special? Research has shown that older adults tend to be more consistent in meeting with their mentee and stay in the relationship longer. The program has benefits for both individuals. The “little” gains a friend and confidant and the Boomer BIGs gain companionship and an enhanced sense of purpose.
How does it work? Our program consists of each match making a year commitment to the program and meeting six to eight hours a month. Pairing older adults with children in need is beneficial and rewarding for both. The children learn from the vast wisdom and expertise of their mentors, who help them focus on academics and future goals. In exchange, senior volunteers receive tremendous personal rewards and health benefits, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, decreased rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations.
Tell us about a success story. Big sister Mikki has been matched with her little, Emily, for over three years. Mikki is in her 60s and little Emily is 14 years old. Mikki has passed on her love for music to Emily by taking her to local shows like The Nutcracker and symphony rehearsals. Emily started taking cello lessons and performing with the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony with the help of Mikki’s guidance. Both have enjoyed each other’s company throughout these past years, and Emily’s mom is really grateful for the opportunities Emily has been introduced to by Mikki.
For more info, contact Family Service Agency’s Yeimi Arias at 965-1001 or see fsacares.org/boomerbigs.