Big Brothers Big Sisters opens new mentoring center in downtown Rochester

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester is celebrating its 40th year of connecting kids with mentors in our community and now the organization has a new space of its own for the kids and their Bigs to enjoy.

“I’ve been playing packman my whole life and I never thought I would meet a brother that plays packman and I can’t beat him!,” says 12-year-old Chanze Hardgers-Masseu about his big brother, Basil Barrett.

Hardgers-Masseu joined the Big Brothers Big Sisters program after his real brother passed away, “it’s been a few years without my little brother so, that’s mostly how I got here,” he tells News10NBC.

Barrett joined the program after sending his own two children off to college, “it’s just listening to Chanze and just whenever there are problems that come up, just him talking to me and just being attentive to what he’s saying and say okay, how can resolve this particular issue or what are some of the things we do,” he explains.

On Tuesday, Big Brothers Big Sisters opened a new 2400 square-foot mentoring center in Rochester with a full kitchen for cooking lessons, rooms for homework, tutoring and job training, basketball hoops, air hockey and a game room—a place for Bigs and Littles to hang out together.

“Programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters are more important today than they’ve ever been,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello at a ribbon cutting for the new center, “100% of the Littles engaged in their services have no contact with the justice system, 100%…think of that, the proof is right there.” Monroe County chipped in some of its COVID money to cover the cost of the new space.

“Many folks have adults in their life but that doesn’t mean they are positive adult role models, to have a positive adult role model in your life can help set you on a trajectory towards success,” Rochester Mayor Malik Evans added.

The only real problem is the organization needs more Bigs, “it is our hope that with the opportunities that our new space will present, we will attract additional bugs needed to support the 130 littles we are working to match with a mentor,” says CEO, Lisa Mattoon.

You can learn how to become a Big Brother or Big Sister here.