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Lompoc’s Jon Vanderhoof Named Big Brother of the Year

Jon Vanderhoof accepting his Big Brother of the Year Award Click to view larger
Jon Vanderhoof accepting his Big Brother of the Year Award ((Big Brothers Big Sisters photo))

A surprise ceremony was held Jan. 27, 2016, at the Lompoc workplace of Big Brother Jon Vanderhoof, as he was named Santa Barbara County’s Big Brother of the Year. 

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer and donor supported program of Family Service Agency. January is National Mentoring Month, a nationwide initiative to bring awareness to the hundreds of Santa Barbara County’s vulnerable youth who are moving through life without the guide of an adult mentor. 

A volunteer mentor with the program since 2008, Vanderhoof has made significant contributions to his Little Brother Victor’s focus on his future goals, education and sports. 

Vanderhoof has also made lasting contributions to the program as a spokesperson and donor. He was nominated for the award by the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff and voted Big Brother of the Year by the Advisory Council.

The dedicated Big Brother focuses on bringing more mentors into the program because “most of the kids in the program are living with single mothers and it takes men to usher these boys into manhood,” he said.  

Sarah Rudd, Big Brothers Big Sisters Program Manager, agrees.

“More than 65 percent of the children who are ready and waiting for a mentor are boys wanting Big Brothers, yet only 40 percent of our volunteers are men," Rudd said. "Our aim is to close this gap and offer a mentor to every child who wants a Big Brother.”

Little Brother Victor is thrilled that Vanderhoof is being honored.

“The day I met Jon, I knew he would be a good role model,” said Victor. “I have learned so much from him. He has helped me to be a better person and talks to me about goals all the time. He is considerate and puts me first.”

The surprise ceremony was held at Kingsway Financial Services in Lompoc. In attendance were the Kingsway team, including Managing Principal John Puscheck and Portfolio Administrator Warren Einolander, the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff and Ellen Vanderhoof, Jon’s wife. 

A recognition plaque and flowers were delivered by Sarah Rudd, along with words of thanks from her and Little Brother Victor.

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 6-18.

Ongoing match support for volunteers, children and their families helps mentoring matches last long and remain strong.

A public-private ventures study found that children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters programs are more likely than their peers to perform well in school, behave non-violently, avoid illegal drugs and alcohol and have stronger family relationships. 

Locally in 2015, 86 percent of participating youth improved academic performance, 89 percent avoided delinquency, 87 percent improved their class participation and 81 percent reported a better attitude toward school. 

For more information, please visit www.sbbigs.org or call 805.965.1001 x256.

Eve Fouratt is a development associate at Family Service Agency.

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