INDIO, Calif. - Sebastian Roman, 11, likes to draw, sing, play piano and hike. He and his mom Noemi Ruiz have always been a team at their home in Indio, but something has always been missing: a father-figure.
"I know there is stuff (Sebastian) won't tell me. I know is he had a positive role model, someone to guide him in the best direction, that would help me out a lot," said Ruiz.
Roman's dad was in prison before he was deported to Mexicali, and has hardly been a part of their lives, which is why Roman joined Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert more than a year ago.
"I want a big brother just to experience it. I joined the program and I'm still waiting for a big brother," said Roman.
BBBS serves more than 400 children in the Coachella Valley alone. There are nearly 70 kids on the waiting list, a majority who are little boys. Many are from the East Valley, according to David Greenberg, a Big Brother and board vice president of the organization.
Recruiting men is a challenge, often because of distance and commitment, so Big Brothers Big Sisters kicked off a "Man Up" campaign across the state, calling on men 18 and over to "man up" and be a big brother, or a mentor for boys such as Roman.
All it takes is eight hours of quality time together a month, and a promise you'll be there.
"Do you play golf, go hiking, go to the park to shoot hoops? Being a big brother is just bringing a child along with you," said BBBS Executive Director Judy Tobin May.
Many of the children come from single-parent homes, low-income circumstances and your commitment is one-on-one time to push their worries aside and focus on a brighter future.
"I know there's someone out there that will match him. It would be an experience that you'll never forget."
Until then, Roman waits and hopes for a match.
"I'm excited because I'm on the top of the list. So I'm probably going to get one soon," said Roman.
If you'd like to be a "Big," contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert and visit their website for more information www.bbbsdesert.org
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert
42-600 Cook Street, Suite 110
Palm Desert, CA 92211
(760) 568-2282 FAX