In the News

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada helps about 600 children each year by matching them with a positive adult mentor. Each child is living in poverty, most come from single-parent households, many have an incarcerated parent.

Many of the children we serve -- like Jon-Luke, who just graduated as a “Little Brother -- struggle with repeating the cycles of poverty and addiction modeled by their parents. Like Jon-Luke, they realize fairly early that, if not for their Big Brother or Sister, they likely would have had a much different future.

As a kid, Jon-Luke just wanted to seem normal. He played the part of a class clown at school, but what was going on inside – and at home – was far from funny.

At home, drug, alcohol and gambling addiction were the norm. When he was 7, Jon-Luke's family was evicted from their home. The family moved from hotels, to a tent, to the back of their truck. Eventually Jon-Luke and his sister were sent to live with their aunt, where they were lucky to get a stable place to live, but took a back seat to their cousins.

Although Jon-Luke now had his physical needs met, he did not have the emotional support he needed during a time of so much change. He found it hard to make friends because he didn’t want anyone to know what was going on with his family.

For three years this little boy fought to keep up the pretense that everything was ok, to act funny and happy so no one could see how badly he was hurting. But when he was 10, a bright, new path opened up for Jon-Luke, a path that was flooded with guidance and support.

Ellen and Roger have mentored countless children through the charities they are involved with, but they made a deeper commitment to Jon-Luke as a Couples Match with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada. By volunteering as Bigs together, Ellen and Roger could really focus on Jon-Luke as their Little Brother and fill some of the voids he so desperately needed.

Ellen and Roger got Jon-Luke involved in their extensive volunteer work, teaching him to look for ways to help the people around him. He also learned life skills, got support for schoolwork, and saw what a successful life could be.

Now that he has graduated from high school, Jon-Luke is sure that without the guidance of Roger and Ellen, he would have succumbed to the negative influences that surrounded him, consuming him the way they did many of his cousins and other relatives. Jon-Luke knows he could have just as easily ended up on drugs or with other addictions.

Instead, Jon-Luke graduated with honors, at the top of his class. He has started taking college classes and has a long-term job where he has been promoted several times. Jon-Luke can now look forward to a bright future, where he doesn't have to act or hide, but can become the person he truly wants to be, with his Big Brother and Big Sister always by his side.

© 2014 Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada, 1300 Foster Drive, Suite 210, Reno, NV 89509, (775) 352-3202

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