Program Celebrates New Branding

  • Share:
October 11, 2018
Program Celebrates New Branding
Daily News- Record 10/11/18
HARRISONBURG — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County serves hundreds of area youth, and some of the participants on both sides of those mentorships spoke at a luncheon on Wednesday to help launch the organization’s new branding. Alejandra Miramontes Cortez is a 13-year-old student at Thomas Harrison Middle School, and she has been matched with her big sister, Emily McCarty, for over a year. Alejandra told the audience that she
had always wanted a sister, having a younger brother, and that Emily is someone she can tell anything to.
“She is a friend who has my back,” she said.
Alejandra shared a story about applying for an academic program that required hard work, which Emily helped her with. When she told McCarty on one of their outings that she didn’t get in, McCarty told her that it’s okay to be disappointed but that there would be other opportunities.
“My dream is to go to college,” Alejandra told the audience. “I would be the first in my family.”
Magaly Ayala is the mother of three children, all of whom have been paired with a big sister. She spoke of her son’s desire to go to college after discussing it with his big sister, her daughter’s growth in confidence, and her youngest son’s feeling of being included.
“The mentors have made a big impact on our entire family,” Ayala said.
It wasn’t just the “littles” and their families that spoke at the luncheon — held at Festival Conference and Student Center at James Madison University — but those who have mentored children spoke as well.
Pete DeSmit and his wife, Liz, have been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters for 30 years, having been paired with their first child in the 1980s before they had kids themselves. DeSmit said that he still keeps in touch with that first little brother, now grown and gainfully employed.
The DeSmits’ most recent match was in 2014 with Gael, now 12 years old.
The couple’s children have also been involved in Gael’s life.
“We encourage him to think for himself,” DeSmit said, adding that he tries to impart the same life lessons on Gael that he did his own children.
Lindsey Douglas, executive director of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters, announced that the national organization has launched a new campaign and branding aimed at expanding opportunities and serving more children.
About 100 stakeholders and partnership representatives attended the event on Wednesday.
“We work with hundreds of area kids, but there are hundreds still waiting,” Douglas said, adding that the branding change shows the organization’s commitment to growing and standing up for kids.
“Without visibility, we can not change the world,” she said.
Douglas also noted a pilot program will be introduced in Shenandoah County, and the first big-little match is coming soon.