Idahoans are being asked to give to nonprofit groups throughout the state on Thursday.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Idaho is a small organization that doesn’t require a large staff or a big budget, but it has changed a lot of lives.
Throwing a Frisbee is sometimes all it takes to improve a kid’s outlook on life.
“It’s just really simple,” said Jared Ficiur, who volunteers as a Big Brother. “Most of the time we just end up playing video games, or board games, going to a movie. It’s nothing too time consuming.”
“It kind of helps for me to not miss my dad quite so much,” said Deacon Berrett, Jared’s little brother.
Ficiur and 12-year-old Berrett have been matched for about a year.
Berrett, like many children in the program, comes from a home with a single parent. Ficiur’s family lives out of state, so he also benefits from the relationship.
“I really miss spending time with my little brothers and my little nephews,” Ficiur said. “(The program) gives me a little brother here.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters focuses on one-on-one relationships, allowing a child to form a trusting bond with an adult role model.
“I just like hanging out with Jared,” Berrett said.
Research has found that kids participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters for at least 18 months are 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol, 52 percent less likely to skip school, 37 percent less likely to skip a class and 33 percent less likely to hit someone.
The more immediate effects often land in letter form on the desk of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Idaho’s Executive Director Judy DeRoche.
“It warms my heart,” DeRoche said of each time she reads a letter from a happy little brother or sister.
DeRoche been at the helm of running the organization for 24 years and said, recently, fundraising has gotten increasingly difficult.
“Our bowl-a-thon for many, many years was our largest fundraiser. We raise $20,000 to $25,000 a year. Last year, it was down to about $12,000. This year we raised just under $7,000,” DeRoche said.
The operating budget for Big Brothers Big Sisters is about $60,000 per year; enough to pay DeRoche and her two part-time employees.
“All nonprofits are businesses,” DeRoche said. “We have a different product: a changed life.”
Like volunteering, it won’t take much money to make a difference.
For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Idaho, visit bbbsid.org.
To donate to this organization, or other participating nonprofits in Idaho for Idaho Gives, visit idahogives.org on Thursday and search for the organization of your choice.