College student shares bond with ‘Little’

Like many close siblings, Seward County Community College/ Area Technical School student Blanca Richard loves to hang out with her little sister, Mikayla Zapien. They play sports, bake and sing in the car together often. Both also love to talk together. From getting their nails done to learning how to play softball, Richard enjoys being Zapien’s big sister; except she is not actually Richard’s sister. Richard is part of Liberal’s Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a non-profit organization, focused on helping children through one-on-one relationships with a mentor and is one of the oldest and largest youth mentoring organizations in the United States. After signing up with the program more than a year ago, Richard is glad to be a part of something that’s making a difference. “I think it’s a really good thing to be involved in. It helps kids to be confident and know more than just school friends and family,” said Richard. Zapien is Richard’s 11-year-old “Little,” and the girls have been together since Richard started the program. “I can really see the change in her since we started. She’s really matured into a teenager, and she asks for my advice on a lot of things,” said Richard. “Blanca’s funny, creative, cool, and sweet. She’s really nice,” said Zapien. Richard’s friend and former co-worker at Buckle, Barb Campos, recommended her to the program when Richard started school at SCCC/ATS. Richard thought it would be fun and agreed to apply for the BBBS program. “I knew from getting to know Blanca that she would be perfect for the Big Brother Big Sister program,” Campos said. Campos now works fulltime at Big Brother Big Sister and thinks the program is a great outlet for kids, especially when they have chaotic home lives. She loves the program and what it does, and wishes that other people could see how good the program is and how many children it helps. Campos also speaks very highly of Richard’s “Big” role in Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Blanca and Mikayla are the perfect example of the program and how it works. Blanca can always connect with Mikayla, and has changed Mikayla’s life so much. Mikayla has grown out of her shell since she met Blanca, and Blanca has helped her in every aspect of her life.” “I can’t say enough about how well Blanca has done with Mikayla, and the impact she’s had on her life. She goes out of her way to help Mikayla and is always genuine with everyone,” Campos said. Campos is also in charge of checking on Richard and her “little sister” every month to review what they did together and how much time they spent. Richard also encourages other students to join Big Brothers Big Sisters. “It helps give a different perspective for others and their cultures and lives. You can help someone change their life, and it’s really fun too.”