A surprise ceremony was held on January 27 at the Lompoc workplace of Big Brother Jon Vanderhoof, as he was named Santa Barbara County’s Big Brother of the Year.  Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer and donor supported program of Family Service Agency. January is National Mentoring Month, a nationwide initiative to bring awareness to the hundreds of Santa Barbara County’s vulnerable youth who are moving through life without the guide of an adult mentor.

A volunteer mentor with the program since 2008, Jon has made significant contributions to his Little Brother Victor’s focus on his future goals, education and sports.  Jon has also made lasting contributions to the program as a spokesperson and donor.  He was nominated for the award by the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff and voted Big Brother of the Year by the Advisory Council.

Jon focuses on bringing Big Brothers into the program, because “most of the kids in the program are living with single mothers and it takes men to usher these boys into manhood.”

Sarah Rudd, Big Brothers Big Sisters Program Manager, agrees. “More than 65% of the children who are ready and waiting for a mentor are boys, wanting Big Brothers, yet only 40% of our volunteers are men.  Our aim is to close this gap and offer a mentor to every child who wants Big Brother.”

Jon Vanderhoof, as he was named Santa Barbara County’s Big Brother of the Year.  Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer and donor supported program of Family Service Agency.

The surprise ceremony was held at Kingsway Financial Services in Lompoc. In attendance were the Kingsway team, including John Puscheck, Managing Principal, and Warren Einolander, Portfolio Administrator, the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff and Ellen Vanderhoof, Jon’s wife.  A recognition plaque and flowers were delivered by Sarah Rudd, along with words of thanks from her and Little Brother Victor.

Big Brothers Big Sisters responds to the urgent needs of the community’s at-risk youth by offering powerful adult mentoring relationships for at-risk youth ages 6 to 18. Ongoing match support for volunteers, children and their families helps mentoring matches last long and remain strong. A public-private ventures study found that children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are more likely than their peers to perform better in school, behave non-violently, avoid illegal drugs and alcohol and have stronger family relationships.  Locally in 2015, 86% of participating youth improved academic performance, 89% avoided delinquency, 87% improved their class participation and 81% reported a better attitude toward school.

For more information, please visit www.sbbigs.org or call (805) 965-1001 x256.