Since 1996, Hobart and William Smith have partnered with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters (BBBS) of Greater Rochester to match adult volunteers (“bigs”) from the Colleges with children (“littles”), ages 6 through 18, in the Geneva area. That partnership has resulted in lasting friendships, mentorships and enduring bonds between the Colleges and the community.
Arsalan Haider ’18, who transferred to HWS his sophomore year, says the BBBS program has helped him develop a deeper sense of belonging to the Geneva area. Mentoring his “little” means that Haider can see “the world through his eyes, and that helps keep me grounded and puts things in perspective.”
Throughout the fall semester, Haider and the 14 other HWS “bigs” met weekly with their “littles,” attending group events to engage and bond with each other and with the community.
“Bigs” and “littles” share meals in Saga, attend campus sporting events and volunteer in the community through HWS Days of Service and events like the Ontario Pathways Pumpkin Walk in Canandaigua.
The BBBS and the HWS Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL) collaborate on these events and expand participation in other areas of the campus community, like the Office of Intercultural Affairs, which hosted a Thanksgiving celebration for BBBS, and the Hobart lacrosse team, which collaborated with the BBBS to host a holiday gift drive in December.
“I have always enjoyed working with kids,” says Emily Spraggs ’17, who was inspired to join BBBS after hearing about her mother’s experience as a “big.” Spraggs, who has mentored her “little” since September, has “enjoyed getting to know her and seeing what her life is like” through these events and the weekly bonding activities.
Students interested in BBBS, the nation’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring program, can find more information at the HWS Involvement Expo in January, or by contacting Michael Conroy ’17, the civic leader for BBBS at HWS. Conroy, who has worked with a “little” for the past three years, refers passionate HWS students to BBBS, which then trains and pairs “big” volunteers with “littles” in the community.