KOTA Cares: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Black Hills works to ensure children have someone they can count on

Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 7:00 AM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Quality mentorship can have a powerful and positive impact on youth. It can show children that someone cares about them and that they’re not alone when it comes to dealing with challenges.

On this week’s KOTA Cares, we spotlight Big Brother Big Sister of the Black Hills and their call to the community to make a BIG difference in the lives of youth.

Kate and Lexie were paired as big and little sisters in 2021 and since then the two have created a bond filled with trust and guidance.

“We are so goofy when we get together,” said Big Sister Kate Swallow.

Little Sister Lexi Gabriel added, “Our energy just bounces off each other.”

From cheering at hockey and football games to going ice skating, or even something as simple as taking a stroll downtown, the pair loves spending time together.

“It feels amazing, she’s really fun. We’ve went hiking once I’m pretty sure, it was really fun, we both like hiking,” commented Gabriel.

“When we’re together we goof around, and I tease her, and we just have so much fun together,” added Swallow. We’ll dance, if we hear music, we’re just like moving, and people are probably oh my God those people are weird, but we don’t care.”

Kate and Lexi have become much more than a match, they have become family and have grown over the years.

“I became more responsible. I just think I’ve grown as a person,” said Gabriel on the impact of having Kate as her Big Sister.

“I let her know, you know that I want to be there for her so if she ever needs to talk about anything. And I’ve seen her just ever since we’ve been matched her attitude has changed too, like growing more mature,” said Swallow.

Currently, Big Brothers Big Sisters is experiencing a mentorship gap, and 25 kids are waiting for their Big.

To become a Big, you must be at least 18 years old and be willing to commit to a year of mentorship.

Matches are based on interest and hobbies and Bigs are asked to volunteer at least four hours a month.

“You have to be able to pass a background check and provide a driver’s license and references but other than that we say our qualifications is that you have lived experience, and everyone does,” said Audrey Nordine, associate director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Black Hills.

To learn more about becoming a Big or to sign up to find your little, click here.