According to data gathered by Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), the single most common factor for children who develop resilience in the face of adversity is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult. This data point is the entire reason BBBS exists – to connect children (called Littles) with mentoring adults (called Bigs) who can show up, offer guidance and help Littles navigate the challenges of life during fun and regular outings.

Youth who join BBBS report increased confidence, do better in school, have a better relationship with their families, and feel better about themselves. Mentors, too, have an increased sense of purpose and connection, all while having fun and providing space for Littles to safely enjoy being a child.

Currently, there are 140 children on the BBBS waiting list in Alaska. Of these, there are six times as many Alaska Native and American Indian children looking for mentors, with a critical need for Alaska Native men. This stat prompted Ashley Christensen, Chugach’s Community Development Program Director, to take action, reach out to BBBS and become a Big.

“I spent this summer going through the volunteer process, which was extremely thorough,” Ashley recalls. “But the BBBS staff were accommodating, made it easy, and I was matched with my Little Sister just before Thanksgiving! They do a wonderful job pairing youth with mentors. It was wild all the similarities between my childhood and hers, which allowed us to create a stronger initial connection than I thought possible. It’s important to note not all youth in this program are troubled or come from troubled homes, many just need the space to be a kid and have one-on-one time to form healthy relationships.”

Ashley went on to say, “There are so many Alaska youth who are in need of a connection with someone outside their immediate circle, and there are also so many Alaskans who would make excellent role models. My Little is her own inspiring force who teaches me something every time we get together. The reward is very reciprocal; Littles add just as much, if not more value to a Bigs life, and this is the beginning of what I hope will become a lifelong friendship for us both. Being a Big does not require much. Yes, it takes some of your time and commitment to being available two to four times a month for one year, but the activities are all required to be low cost or no cost. BBBS of AK provides monthly activities at discount or free through their community partnerships.”

Volunteering to be a Big is just one way to support BBBS. “This incredible non-profit also requires donations to continue matching and supporting stable and consistent relationships,” Ashley expressed. The need for monetary support was one of the reasons that Ashley nominated BBBS in Chugach’s 12 Months of Giving, and we’re proud to say her submissions kicked off the year with BBBS being selected as the January winner in the campaign and being the first non-profit of 2023 to receive a $1,000 donation from Chugach.

To learn more about the incredible work that BBBS does and to become involved in the Big Program, go to Individual donations to BBBS can also be made using the same link.

Who will be the February 12 Months of Giving winner? That’s up to you. Make your nomination at

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