Big Brothers and Sisters celebrate the season

Children of all ages and sizes ran happily around the gym at Laguna Middle School on Dec. 3, involved in various fun activities set up for Little Brothers and Sisters at the annual holiday party hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Luis Obispo County. Big Brothers and Sisters watched benignly, joining in and “being there” for their “Littles” as the kids checked in frequently.

As the Littles were either getting their faces painted, playing tick-tack-toe and ping pong, singing karaoke or eating pizza, salad and holiday cookies, Executive Director Anna Boyd-Bucy was helping connect me with each Big and Little. It proved to be a fun evening for all.

Bob Gosney of Nipomo is a Big Brother to Tryston, 12, also of Nipomo.

Gosney is a retired district attorney who came here from Los Angeles 13 years ago. Why did he become a Big Brother? “A little boy needs a male mentor,” said the father of three daughters.

When Gosney joined the program four years ago, he had no grandchildren. Now Tryston plays with Gosney’s three grandsons when they’re in town.

“He has a wonderful mom,” Gosney added.

Big Brothers Big Sisters closely matches Bigs to Littles. Gosney and Tryston go hiking at Montaña de Oro State Park, explore tide pools, watch birds, garden and fish. They also play games, such as dominoes and cribbage.

“I love tide pools and fishing at Lake Nacimiento and ocean fishing,” Tryston said, adding, “I want to be a marine biologist, or a basketball player.”

Tryston’s younger brother, 10-year-old Brody, also has a Big Brother, Mike Hill of Arroyo Grande, who played Santa Claus at the event and handed out presents to all the children.

Hill is on the Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors. In that capacity, he raises funds to support Big/Little matches for the 25 to 30 children on the waiting list.

Marsha Stillman of Arroyo Grande has been a Big Sister to Mercedes, 10, of Oceano for 3½ years.

Stillman always wanted to be a Big Sister, so she joined the organization when she retired as property tax manager for San Luis Obispo County. She loves art, and so was matched with a girl who also loves art.

Mercedes “has a really good family. They’ve raised a sweet little girl,” she said.

Stillman picks up Mercedes, then takes her back to her house, where they do art projects and work in Stillman’s garden. Mercedes said, “We play in her garden and play with clay.”

Stillman is thrilled that Mercedes is dancing in the ballet “The Nutcracker” and will also dance in a talent show in January.

Retiree Susan Howe of Oceano was on the board of the Women’s Community Center, near the Big Brothers Big Sisters office in San Luis Obispo. She passed by many times, and, since she had never had any children of her own, decided to apply.

She has been Big Sister to Frankie, an 11-year-old boy from Nipomo, for four years. They go hiking, bowling, biking and more.

Steve Souza, who lives in the Trilogy community in Nipomo, is a Big Brother to Jose, 10, also of Nipomo. They go bowling, ride bikes, swim, walk, and play tennis and games, “fun guy things that we can come together with,” Souza said.

“I’m a Christian,” he said. “The Lord wanted me to get involved.”

For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters, call 781-3226.