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Donald Bock Celebrated as Big Brother of Year

Baseball helped form bond with little brother

Little brother Ciano with big brother Don Bock, as Bock receives Big Brother of the Year award.
Little brother Ciano with big brother Don Bock, as Bock receives Big Brother of the Year award. (Courtesy photo)

It’s fitting that Donald Bock was presented the Big Brother of the Year award at Wednesday’s meeting of Santa Maria Sunriser’s Lion’s Club. This is where he was introduced to Family Service Agency’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program three years ago at a recruitment presentation.

“It was a moving presentation. I realized that there are so many kids that need a Big Brother,” said Bock, a retired corporate safety officer who raised two children.

Bock, who is the Lion’s Club president-elect, has been with the organization for more than 10 years. He is also the Dist. 4 Global Leadership Team coordinator.
What Bock didn’t realize is the impact he’d have so quickly on his little brother. He was matched with 10-year-old Iciano, who didn’t have a male figure in his life at the time. A former Little League coach, Bock used baseball as a way to connect with Iciano, or Ciano for short.

Using positive reinforcement techniques, Bock helped Ciano improve his skills. Within weeks, Ciano hit his first home run. His new-found confidence helped him to be a better teammate as well as a better student.

Ciano became more focused on his future and starting to think about college or a career in the military, Bock said.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters responds to the urgent needs of the community’s at-risk youth, ages 6 to 18, by offering consistent, caring adult mentoring relationships,” said Lisa Brabo, Family Service Agency executive director.

“By giving a couple of hours of their time each week, mentors can have a huge impact on a child’s life,” she said.

Bock is part of the Boomer Bigs Club, an extension to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Barbara County program, which pairs individuals 55 and older with a young person.

Mentoring through the Boomer Bigs Club allows for volunteers like Bock to remain connected to young people, and for young people to gain from the wisdom and experience of an older adult.

“This whole experience has made me realize how needed ‘Bigs’ are,” said Bock. “I get a great sense of satisfaction and I look forward to my time with Ciano.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer and donor-supported program that each year helps hundreds of Santa Barbara County’s vulnerable youth navigate through the challenges life with the guide of an adult mentor.

Studies have found that children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters are more likely than their peers to perform better in school, behave nonviolently, avoid illegal drugs and alcohol, and have stronger family relationships.

Last year in Santa Barbara County, 96 percent of participating youth avoided delinquency, 73 percent improved academic performance, and 76 percent improved relationships with family and peers.

Family Service Agency of Santa Barbara County raises all funds through private sources to support volunteers and youth enrolled in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Each match costs about $1,500.

Those interested in donating or volunteering can visit fsacares.org or call 805-965-1001.

— Marianne McCarthy for Family Service Agency.


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