Raised by his grandmother, dot429 Events Manager Arthur Allione, 31, met his Big Brother and Big Sister, Keith and Adele, as a wide-eyed nine year old in need of role models. Now, over two decades later, Allione is a Big Brother himself and still hangs out with Keith and Adele.
“Thanks to Big Brothers Big Sisters, I learned about the world through a different, more inspired sets of eyes.” Allione said. “My Bigs (as Big Brothers and Big Sisters are called) taught me how to interact with other adults. I would not be who I am today without their guidance and support. They had the patience and passion a child needs at that stage of their lives. My grandmother was amazingly tough, but not a superhero.”
His Bigs were able to act as mentors in ways his grandmother could not.
Voted “Most Likely to Save the World” at his high school in Albany, Calif., Allione, as a side project, produces e-waste events, launching a successful electronic recycling program in partnership with local schools.
“It’s a win-win, toxic chemicals stay out of landfills and schools make money,” he said.
In August 2010, Allione met his Little, Romeo, a six-year-old boy with a single mom and a sweet tooth.
“I’d been waiting to get a Little until I stabilized my schedule,” he said. “It was amazing to finally be in a position to become a Big.”
Mentoring is not without it’s challenges. “I think the hardest thing is convincing Romeo that I’m not the candy-and-ice-cream fairy,” Allione says. “We have a lot of fun together, which helps with my Peter Pan Syndrome. It’s wonderful to perpetuate the cycle of caring and helping a young man grow.”
In their four months together, Allione and Romeo have gone ice skating, visited the zoo, enjoyed nature hikes and picnics, gone bowling, done a community service project and started huge games of tag in San Francisco parks.
There are lots of Littles that need male mentors. Sixty percent of children on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bay Area wait list are boys. To become a mentor, there’s an extensive screening process. Gay applicants are welcome.
“Me being gay was never an issue with the organization or Romeo or his family,” Allione said. “It’s a very open, inclusive organization.”
For over 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been matching children with adults for enriching one-on-one relationships. They’ve made a huge impact. A child with a Big is 46 percent less likely to use drugs, 50 percent less likely to cut classes and 32 percent less likely to use violence than their non-mentored peers.
Federal budget cuts have devastated Big Brother Big Sisters’ budgets. Learn how you can help.