HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — “I just want to make sure the kids in our programs that they can see that their goals are attainable,” said Shasity Rios, of Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters (NBBBS)
She manages northeast school-based programs for the organization.
Thanks to her, elementary and middle schoolers from Windham and Putnam areas are linked up with students from the University of Connecticut and Eastern Connecticut State University.
“I know that these programs are really important and they have been really impactful for years,” she told News 8.
This year has been different, to say the least. When COVID-19 hit, students were forced to learn remotely, which also meant bigs and littles were no longer able to meet in person.
“So with the kids, the biggest focus was they’re going to be dealing with a lot of change emotions are going to run really high,” she explained. “So, my main focus was like, ‘Okay, we need something that feels constant.'”
So, Rios turned those programs into virtual activities — online science fairs and arts and crafts that help keep spirits high and those crucial relationships alive and thriving.
“Being your true human self, that is exactly what you need to succeed,” said Toni Vella, a mentor with NBBBS.
Vella has been a mentor for three years. She said transitioning online wasn’t always the easiest.
“Kids age, like they want to be active; they want to do physical activities, so to try and find stuff that is engaging enough for both of us on the computer is difficult.”
But she also says, it’s rewarding.
“I think something really interesting that came out of it that I didn’t anticipate when we went online was that we are having more conversation now.”
“I just want to make sure that the kiddos we serve and you know…they are doing well,” Rios added.
Those interested in volunteering can do so online.