Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte County

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte County, Inc., 1280 East Ninth St., P.O. Box 7222, Chico, CA 95927
With a new school-based program introduced at Chapman and Parkview elementary schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butte County is finding new ways to make a positive difference in the lives of local youth.

Both the traditional community-based program and the school-based programs share the goal of creating one-on-one mentoring relationships between caring adults ("bigs") and youths ("littles"). But while the community-based program requires a year’s commitment of about three to five hours per week, the school-based program requires only a three-month commitment of one to two hours a week.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Executive Director JoAna Brooks explains that the new program is well suited to meet the needs of potential volunteers who aren’t here year-round, such as students. By encouraging meeting on campus during classroom time, lunch or after-school activities, the more-structured setting helps relieve the potential burden of always having to search for things to do.

The new program has also increased the number of matches made between “bigs” and “littles.” There are now more than 70 such matches made, but Brooks says she is always looking for more volunteers.

“We have close to 60 kids on the waiting list, and 90 percent of them are boys, so we’re always looking for Big Brothers,” she explained.

Brooks went on to say that becoming a volunteer “can be a pretty quick process” and usually starts with a phone call or a stop by the Big Brothers office. Information is also available on the group’s Web site,

The Chico Rotary Club recently adopted Big Brothers Big Sisters as a sponsored organization. Brooks explained that the Rotarians have offered to help the organization develop the technology in its office, and recently took some of the kids to a Chico Heat game.

The Rotarians will also pitch in to help as dealers for the casino games at the Big Event, Big Brothers Big Sisters’ signature event and largest fund-raiser of the year.

The Big Event is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29, from 6 p.m. to midnight at Sierra Nevada Brewery’s “Big Room.” It’s a black tie-optional event, with dinner, dancing and live entertainment by the Skyliners. Outback Steakhouse is donating and cooking all the food for the dinner.

Anyone looking for a special dessert, though, might want to come prepared to bid on one of the donated delicacies in the dessert auctions. Brooks said the bidding was fast and furious last year. A traditional live auction and a silent auction will be held as well.

Tickets for the evening’s event are $75 per person. Anyone wishing to come at 9:30 p.m. just to enjoy dancing to the Skyliners can buy a ticket for $25.

The real fun comes with the naming of the winners of the various “big event” competitions. A number of local businesspeople and celebrities have volunteered their time to drum up dollars in support of their campaigns, with each dollar equaling one vote.

The Big Event’s candidates for Big Citizen are: Sandra Sandoval, T.J. Hildebrand, Scott Gruendl, Maureen Kirk and Steve Simpson.

Candidates for Big Celebrity are Linda Watkins-Bennett, Cheryl Broom and Royal Courtain.

Candidates for Big Professional are Scott Huber, Lisa DeLaby, Shellie Miller, Gordy Cummings and Aaron Jay.

Candidates for Big Dynamic Duo are Scott Winter and Mia Lathrop Winter, Wade and Shelley Overson, Jon Gregory and Dan Nguyen-Tan.

With dollars being counted up until the last day and the results known only to Brooks, no one knows until the big night of the Big Event if he or she will go home a big winner.