SANTA BARBARA, CA – 9/5/14: Francisco Arias thought Friday’s staff meeting would be run-of-the-mill, but was in for quite a surprise when his Little Brother Christian, Christian’s mother and Big Brothers Big Sisters staff appeared and presented him with a “BIG in the Spotlight” award.


The award took place at Logic Monitor, Arias’ workplace in Santa Barbara. The Big in the Spotlight Award is given to volunteer “Bigs” who have exhibited exemplary mentorship for their Little Brother or Sister, as well as excellent ambassadorship for the program. The surprise factor helped celebrate and further validate Arias’ service to Little Brother Christian, spread his message about the importance of youth mentoring and publically thank him for a job well-done.


Earlier this year, Arias was named Big Brother of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Barbara County.  Raised by a single mother, Arias joined the program five years ago because he saw a need to support youth being raised in single-parent homes. He was matched with 12-year-old Christian, a shy and sensitive boy who struggled with abandonment issues and failing grades.


After five-years of consistent, professionally supported one-to-one outings with his Big Brother, 17 year old Christian just graduated from high school, has a part time job and is on his way to college.


“I feel like Francisco is my real brother,” Christian says. “We are friends, he listens to me and he even let me learn to drive in his car.  It felt good that Francisco trusted me.”


Their life-changing experiences together have inspired the two to write letters to the media and act as constant ambassadors, encouraging others to give time and funding to their favorite program.


Christian’s mother is proud of the polite, well-rounded young man her son has become.


“I have seen a huge improvement in Christian, at home and at school,” Christian’s mother says. “His grades have improved dramatically because of Francisco’s constant encouragement to focus on academic goals; he is enrolling in college; and with Francisco’s help, we have a real chance for a scholarship.  At home Christian now willingly helps with the chores, he and I are closer than ever and he gets along with other family members too.  He has also embraced his passion for sports and helps Francisco make speeches and write letters about the importance of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Today, Christian is a loving and more responsible young man who knows he can turn to his Big Brother for anything.”



Recognized as the single most effective prevention-based mentoring program in the United States, Big Brothers Big Sisters (a local program of Family Service Agency) provides children facing adversity with strong, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Last year, 220 youth throughout Santa Barbara County benefitted from the program – all children facing difficulties, many from homes with single-, low-income or incarcerated parents. Youth served through the program are more likely than their peers to succeed in school, make safer behavioral choices and have stronger relationships with their parents and others.



Established in 1899, Family Service Agency has long been regarded as one of Santa Barbara County’s most reliable and effective nonprofit human service organizations. FSA programs ensure access to food, shelter and other basic needs, as well as youth mentoring and a wide-array of mental health programs. Each year, nearly 20,000 Santa Barbara County residents receive services at FSA sites, as well as on school campuses, at community centers and in their homes.



Melinda Johansson

Development & Marketing Manager

Family Service Agency

(805) 965-1001 ext. 256

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