Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrate mentoring

| 16/01/2019
CNS Local Life

(L-R) Alex Richardson and Gerardo Ochoa-Vargas at Stingray City

(CNS Local Life): In addition to observing International Mentoring Day today (17 January), Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of the Cayman Islands is marking Cayman’s longest standing match, a 10-year relationship between mentor Gerardo Ochoa-Vargas and Alex Richardson. Matched in March 2009, the two initially found they lacked shared interests, but 10 years on they have “become brothers and life-long friends”.

In addition, this month BBBS Cayman is “bringing a sharper focus to the power of mentoring to help children achieve their full potential, despite adverse circumstances”, stated a press release. The organisation added it has an “urgent need for men to get involved”, with 19 boys aged 6-14 waiting for a Big Brother, some for as long as two years.

Of his relationship with his mentee, Ochoa-Vargas said, “Alex is much more sporty and active and I have always liked science and books. But that is also what I have enjoyed the most about our time together – the challenge of getting out of my comfort zone to achieve something worthy and entertaining, and at times formative, for this youngster.”

Pilar Bush, chair of the BBBS board, noted that their relationship has changed as Richardson evolved through adolescence and then into a young man. “Gerardo has been a consistent figure providing a positive force in Alex’s life,” she said. “They weathered many of life’s storms together and celebrated the successes together. Alex and Gerardo started out as a mentor and mentee and today are as close as brothers with a bond strong enough to last a life time.”

CNS Local Life

(L-R) Robert Thomas and Ezekai Carter have been matched for two years

Over the years, the duo’s outdoor adventures have taken them to Mr Willie’s Pond in North Side, snorkelling out to the Kittiwake, shooting amateur horror movies in abandoned buildings, and skating at the Black Pearl Skate park. Ochoa-Vargas even became Richardson’s stylist for his high school prom, the release said.

“Once Alex turned 18 they technically ‘age out’ of the BBBS programme and the match is no longer formally monitored, but they are part of our BBBS family and regularly come out to our events, speak to groups and share their amazing story,” Bush said.

Founded in New York in 1904 and operating in 13 countries, BBBS was brought to the Cayman Islands by the vision of Pastor Stanwyck Myles and the Lions Club of Grand Cayman in the early 1990s, formalising what was then an informal community mentoring programme. Recognised as the world’s leading youth-mentoring organisation, it has been independently assessed to deliver positive, measurable youth outcomes, the release said.

To learn more about the role mentoring plays in the community and how to get involved, visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters website or email the organisation

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Category: Community, Service Organisations

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