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A call for more ‘Bigs’ to help guide ‘Littles’ who need it

SANTA FE, N.M. — Years ago, about 1979, I had occasion to see the most interestingly marvelous and special Victorian bracelet upon the wrist of a celebrated American interior designer just after she bought it at an auction at Sotheby’s in London. In the center was a hand-painted porcelain miniature, but the unique element was its wide band, intricately braided and woven of human hair. Blond. Circa 1860.

I’ve had my eye out for one for the past 40 years! Hair jewelry, from bracelets to pocket watch fobs, was the fashion rage in the 19th century. Those folks certainly must have had a lot of time on their hands, sitting around weaving a strand of hair into something!

Fast forward to 2018, fast being the operative concept. Our lives are FAST. And it’s really hectic for the single parent these days. When he/she gets all the necessities done, makes ends meet and just gets by, who has time to sit? So often, there’s no time left over for the children, particularly quality time.

By accident … .

Enter Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The organization carefully matches up a child with an older, wiser volunteer friend. They go do fun things together; they talk about feelings, problems, concerns and worries. The “Big” picks up the slack where the parent left off, providing a positive, stable, loving force in his/her life, and helps “guide that child up in the right way.” What a blessing.

About 350 generous Santa Feans enthusiastically sold out the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Benefit Gala this year, where we heard firsthand from a number of “Bigs” and “Littles.”

Children living in one-parent, or foster parent, or no-parent homes shared their feelings about the program and life before it … loneliness, self doubt, many fears, much hurt.

One young speaker spoke into the microphone of “the hurricane of divorce.”

“Where will I live? Will I see my siblings again? What did I do wrong? Who am I, and who can I be? One night, all of a sudden, we’re not eating dinner together, because daddy doesn’t live here with us anymore. So who else that I love is going to leave me?”

“I will not leave her. I offer her unconditional friendship,” said a lovely woman – her big sister – who hugged the youngster on stage.

Although our Big Brothers/Big Sisters is currently serving 1,121 children, for every child served, there are three others who need it! With 683 Big Sister matches and 328 Big Brother matches, we still have a great need for both, but there’s a tremendous shortage of male “Bigs.”

Young boys are in desperate need of a strong male role model! Calling the George Baileys of the world, the Clarence Odbody Guardian Angels! She said, “Desperate Need!” Good guys to go out and throw the ball; run with the dogs; ride bikes! Model being a real man. Anything, but keep them out of the gangs, off the path of premature fatherhood, out of mischief, and directed forward to a productive and happy life!

Preston Miles is doing just that with his “Little,” 9-year-old Ethan Wolf. Ethan is homeschooled and has two much older teenage sisters who do not want to run around with him outside, but Preston takes him hiking (his favorite is the Rio en Medio waterfall), playing frisbee, playing video games and even touring downtown Santa Fe looking at art, especially the geodes at the fossil store. Preston is enriching Ethan’s outlook on life and Ethan is enriching Preston’s soul.

How can you have a jolly party with these heart-wrenching topics as the focus? And yet we did!

In celebration, this event raised a pretty impressive $330,000! This will go towards matching “bigs & littles,” mainly training the “bigs,” programs, and paying support staff.

I could have used a big sister in life to point out the potholes in the road ahead, guide me in everything, and be my trusted confidante and adviser. Sadly, it’s too late for that.

But I’m getting the hair bracelet.

Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email apm@ashleymargetson.com.

 

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