Big Brothers Big Sisters expands: El Dorado program provides South Shore kids with mentors | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Big Brothers Big Sisters expands: El Dorado program provides South Shore kids with mentors

Jack Barnwell
jbarnwell@tahoedailytribune.com
Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce members perform a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County at Tahoe Mountain Lab on Oct. 15.
Courtesy / Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce |

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — South Shore children may now join Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County. It’s based at Tahoe Mountain Lab, 1048 Ski Run Blvd., and it opened in October.

Tahoe Mountain Lab donated space to the program to encourage expansion in South Lake Tahoe, according to co-founder David Orr.

Orr benefited from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program as a California child.

“I actually came from that disadvantaged background and didn’t have a father around,” Orr said. “While my mother did a great job raising me, she wanted me to have a male influence in my life so she had me join as a ‘Little.’”

Orr said he is still connected with his mentor, or ‘Big,’ to this day.

“He’s been a huge part of my life as a child and beyond,” Orr said.

Donating space at Tahoe Mountain Lab makes sense, he added — “I think there is a huge opportunity to take advantage of the program in South Lake Tahoe. There are so many children from diverse backgrounds that might benefit from having the influence of an adult man or woman in their lives.”

Brenda Frachiseur, the nonprofit’s executive director, said the organization is excited to expand its site-based programs locally.

“We received a grant from El Dorado County Mental Health that allowed us the opportunity to start one of our programs up here,” Frachiseur said.

In the past, the nonprofit only operated on the county’s West Slope, including Placerville.

The main program, “Start Early,” will provide mentors for children ages 3-5. The program is done in partnership with the El Dorado County Office of Education’s Head Program and the county’s Health and Human Services Agency.

Mentors, known as “Bigs,” will help children, called “Littles,” increase their social, emotional and academic development.

The organization identified 9,901 vulnerable or at-risk children in El Dorado County. Frachiseur estimates that about 40 percent of the children reside in South Lake Tahoe. Most are located through the school district.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County serves about 200 of those children annually.

“We expect that number to grow with our expansion into South Lake Tahoe,” Frachiseur said. “We doubt that we can ever serve all 9,901 children in the county, but we want to do the best we can for as many children possible.”

Todd White, the nonprofit’s South Lake Tahoe coordinator, said the nonprofit is in the process of matching kids with mentors.

“The kids will be referred to us by either the parents, school district, or the El Dorado County Office of Education,” he said.

The first matches are being placed through the El Dorado County Office of Education and at preschool sites.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is currently hammering out an agreement with Lake Tahoe Unified School District before it starts a new program, called “School.”

According to White, “School” allows mentors and school-aged children to meet one-on-one in the classroom, on the playground, or at a community center. Activities include reading, playing sports and computer games, or simply hanging out.

White said the nonprofit’s reception in South Lake Tahoe is well-received.

“The Tahoe community has been so welcoming,” White said.

“What we have here is a space to meet with families and match the kiddos with their mentors,” Frachiseur said. “Tahoe Mountain Lab has been gracious in its support of the program.”

For more information on the South Lake Tahoe programs, contact White at 530-626-1222 or Todd@bbbs-edc.org. For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County, visit http://www.bbbs-edc.org.