FSA Awarded Three-Year Grant to Support Senior Volunteer Service For Popular “Boomer” Big Brother Big Sister Program

Volunteers will serve as mentors or provide program support

Family Service Agency (FSA) of Santa Barbara County announced a new extension to its popular Big Brothers Big Sisters program. The agency disclosed today that it has received a three-year, $180,000 Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to support its Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. FSA intends to recruit 225 volunteer mentors and other supportive roles through the CNCS Retired Senior Volunteer Program. As members of the “baby-boom” generation, these newly recruited Big Brothers and Big Sisters will be known as “Boomer Bigs.”

“I was paired with a fatherless boy,” said Boomer Big Brother Donald Bock. “Any concerns I had about a youngster being matched with someone my age were quickly alleviated. Knowing I’ve had a positive impact on a child’s life brings me tremendous satisfaction.”

”This is a win-win for all involved,” said Sarah Rudd, program manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Barbara County.  “The children learn from the vast wisdom and expertise of their mentors who help them focus on academics and as well as future goals. In exchange, senior volunteers receive tremendous personal rewards and health benefits.” 

The funds were awarded as part of CNCS competition to expand RSVP to new geographic areas. Santa Barbara’s RSVP volunteers perform high impact service creating and supporting life-changing mentoring friendships as Boomer Bigs to a deserving Little or in a variety of other roles at Big Brothers Big Sisters that may include:

  • Helping at activities for Littles and their Bigs
  • Coaching families and Big-Little pairs
  • Training volunteer Big Brothers and Big Sisters
  • Supporting our outreach or social media efforts, etc.

Who can enroll with RSVP?

Anyone aged 55 and older can be an RSVP volunteer. There are no requirements for education, income or experience.  Our staff works closely with volunteers to find the right task or assignment for them, whether that means serving as a mentor, or working behind the scenes in an administrative role.

For more information, call 805-965-1001 x238 or sign up on our website sbbigs.org.

Established in 1971, RSVP engages Americans age 55 and older in citizen service that addresses the nation’s most pressing challenges — everything from fighting the opioid epidemic, reducing crime and reviving cities, connecting veterans to jobs and benefits, preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs, ensuring seniors age independently and with dignity, and help Americans rebuild their lives following a disaster.

While serving, RSVP volunteers also improve their own lives, staying active and healthy through service.  A growing body of research points to mental and physical health benefits associated with volunteering, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, decreased rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations.

In 2016, more than 208,000 Senior Corps RSVP volunteers served in communities across the country. Through community and faith-based organizations, RSVP volunteers served more than 300,000 veterans, mentored more than 78,000 children, and provided independent living services to more than 797,000 older adults.

According to the annual Volunteering and Civic Life in America report by CNCS, more than 21 million Americans aged 55+ contributed more than 3.3 billion hours of service in their communities. Based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour, their collective service provides a yearly economic benefit valued at $78 billion.


Big Brothers Big Sisters responds to the urgent needs of the community’s at-risk youth by offering powerful adult mentoring relationships for at-risk youth ages 6 to 18. Ongoing match support for volunteers, children and their families helps mentoring matches last long and remain strong. Children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are more likely than their peers to perform better in school, behave non-violently, avoid illegal drugs and alcohol and have stronger family relationships.  Locally in 2015, 86% of participating youth improved academic performance, 89% avoided delinquency, 87% improved their class participation and 81% reported a better attitude toward school.

Senior Corps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service. CNCS engages millions of Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs and leads volunteer and civic engagement initiatives for the nation. For more information, visit nationalservice.gov.

The mission of Family Service Agency (FSA) is to strengthen and advocate for families and individuals of all ages and diversities, helping to create and preserve a healthy community. Established in 1899, FSA improves the health and well-being of our community’s most vulnerable children, families and seniors by ensuring access to food, shelter and other basic needs, as well as providing youth mentoring, case management, substance abuse treatment, advocacy, and a wide-array of mental health programs. For more information, visit www.fsacares.org.

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